According to an Angus Reid Poll done in 2017, 64% of Canadians say their holiday spending is out of control. 52% of us expect to go over our holiday-spending budget and I suspect that the other 48% of us are in deep denial about budgets, but I could be wrong.
So why is our spending so out of control?
We like spending on people we care about.
It’s the one time of the year when we feel like we have permission to go wild and money is no object. A switch gets flipped and we forget that an extra $50 here, an extra $100 there adds up quickly and if it means we have the perfect gift it’s really hard to walk away, drive across town, find parking and start searching once again.
We are tied to our traditions.
For years, Christmas morning starts the same way. Coffee and Bailey’s and a mountain of gifts under the tree. Rip, rip, rip, yippee, yay, part 1. Turkey in. Brunch. Friends and family arrive, rip, rip, rip, yippee, yay, part 2. Dinner. More friends arrive and yup, more gifts, part 3 and so on. Every gathering, every event. Ka-ching, ka-ching!
We feel obligated to give equal value.
You know cousin Victoria starts her shopping early and she’s going to present you with something impressive. Last year it was a hand-painted silk bathrobe, the year before was vintage earrings. Oh, the pressure to keep up is murder for her cousin Anne who just bought a new house and is in the throes of a renovation.
We don’t want to disappoint, offend or hurt anyone’s feelings.
Tension around the table can be high at the best of times. Just because you’re related doesn’t mean you all get along. Heaven forbid you give anyone a reason to get ticked off, miffed or snippy.
We don’t want to be embarrassed and raise concern about our financial well-being.
It’s the holidays and you just want your gatherings to be nice and pleasant. The last thing you want is your elderly mother feeling like she needs to use a half pat of butter instead of the full pat because she’s worried about you.
Here’s another statistic that may surprise you: 74% of Canadians say they wish they could save more money at this time of year. So, 3 out of 4 people would like to do things differently and avoid that awful moment when their credit card bill and bank statement arrives in January.
Nobody wants to admit that they can’t afford to be lavish at the holidays, nobody wants to be the Scrooge who raises the idea of not exchanging gifts.
Maybe we are looking at this all wrong.
Perhaps resetting the cost level of gift giving would be a truly brave gesture which would give you and those in your circle sweet relief. Perhaps they too are worried about how much they spend – the numbers surely prove that to be most likely.
Consider that when you spend large, even with the best of generous intentions, and even if you have it to spend, you may be putting pressure on your friends and relatives to give in kind. Maybe they have less to work with than you do. Maybe keeping up with you is a burden.
The holidays are meant to be a time to reconnect with family and friends, with people we care about and who care about us. We all know this but it’s turned into a time of stressful shopping and overspending which robs us of the true joy and meaning of the season.
So what can we do?
Before you start whipping out the plastic, consider a reset and take some time to discuss implementing new gift giving traditions with those in your circle. A less expensive approach might be an even better way to express your shared values and help reduce the cost and increase the full spirit of sharing and caring at the holidays.
But what do you say?
Perhaps something like, “Can we talk about our holiday gift giving? We seem to get carried away more and more every year. Would you be open to setting a maximum spend per gift, or maybe we could do a Chris Cringle or Secret Santa.” Something like that.
Failing that, make a list and track your spending and remember to include yourself on that list. You know it’s going to happen – you’re out and about shopping and you spot that sweater, those boots, that bag, those gloves, that laptop, those… that… and so on, and so on.
Just remember, the true meaning of the holidays is not about how many presents you buy, it’s about showing up and actually being present with all those you love.
To read about the November volatility Click Here.