There are five weeks left in the year and it’s all too easy to get swept away with plans, tasks, projects, events, shopping and the holiday buzz. It takes something to slow down, practice self-care and connect with what’s actually important. Here are some practical steps for achieving financial freedom, during the holidays or anytime.
Try debit-only spending. Research shows that people tend to overspend by up to 23% simply by using a credit card. Spending money borrowed from your future is a slippery slope and credit card induced magical thinking can lead to financial hangovers. True financial freedom comes being in the present moment, being realistic about how much you can afford and practicing conscious guilt-free spending.
Practice a no spend day. The best antidote to overspending during the holidays is to “fast” or not spend any money on a particular day. Invite a friend or family member to try it with you. Use the down time for relaxing, creative projects, reading, exercise, decorating, calling an old friend, or you could even create a proactive holiday spending plan. Pick one day between now and January 1st to enjoy not spending.
Focus on the simple things. Deep breaths are quick, grounding and powerful. The hard part is remembering to use this tool! There is so much to see and feel right here: sunlight coming through the window, our family members and friends without assumptions or expectations, and the beauty in nature during winter. Gifts are wonderful and may even be your primary love language and there are many meaningful ways to spend little or no money during the holidays. Try giving your full presence in lieu of over-doing presents this year. Words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time and homemade gifts are often more memorable than big tickets items.
Get honest. Think about how you want next year to be different financially, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Do a year-end review of how much you earned, how much you spent and how much you saved. Make a plan for your health and self-care. Set up accountability with a group, a friend or on an app. Identify something nourishing that really lights you up and create space in your schedule for more of that. Have a conversation with a loved one you’ve been putting off.
Be intentional. Practice the growth mindset by aligning the vision you have for your life with your behavior. Has it been more than two years since you received or gave yourself a raise? It’s time. What support do you need to feel more confident and experience true peace of mind about money? You may need a new accountant, financial planner, personal assistant, investment advisor, bookkeeper or money coach. Read Choosing the Right Financial Advisor for advice on how to get started. Draft a financial action plan. This list should be comprised of everything and anything that will increase income, stop leaks in spending, reduce expenses, and expand your savings accounts.
In the play Hamlet, Polonius says, “To thine own self be true.” I used to think that swiping the card meant financial freedom. I was in thick money fog and denial. It was a tough journey of self-reflection, truth telling, making amends to myself and others, and following through on needed changes. However, once I created a healthy and sustainable relationship with money, everything in my life changed for the better. One of the many lessons I learned along the way was that for true financial freedom, you must have integrity, be solvent and live within your means, even during the holidays.