Can we start new traditions? How to avoid overspending during the festive season
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Bayport Blog

Can we start new traditions?

Published: January 8, 2021
Categories: Financial wellness
Tags: Financial Tips

Expectations can cause great financial stress, especially at this time of year. Not overspending during the festive season often starts with talking about and managing our own and other people’s expectations.

Traditions are beliefs and customs that are handed down from one generation to the next. They can apply to whole nations, or only to families. Traditions are not cast in stone, and while it may be difficult to change them, it is not impossible.

Traditions and expectations go hand in hand. If, in our family, it is a tradition for brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nephews, and nieces to all get together in one place over Christmas to exchange gifts, tell stories, and eat and drink until we feel like bursting, it can be very difficult to even imagine doing things differently.

There is no denying how special these together-times can be; but equally, there’s no denying how much emotional and financial stress they can create.

As families grow, it becomes more and more expensive to host massive gatherings, complete with free food and gifts for everyone. Added to that can be the expectation – and tradition – that December bonuses must be shared with family members.

Almost without noticing, your own financial wellness can come under pressure, along with personal intentions, such as going into the new year debt free, or remaining committed to the debt solutions you have implemented to relieve your financial stress.

As we said earlier, traditions are not cast in stone. Often in families, they start innocently enough but become entrenched almost without anyone noticing. Before you know it, something that only started 10 or 20 years ago, is a non-negotiable family tradition.

Fortunately, just as we make traditions, we can change them.

The starting point is identifying and acknowledging the traditions that are harming your financial wellness and then finding a way to start a conversation around changing them. You don’t want to harm or destroy relationships in the process, so tread carefully and respectfully.

Chances are that once the conversation is underway, you will discover that other family members have similar concerns. Together you can all sit around a table and find a way to preserve what is important to your family without people having to end up in debt and financial stress because they feel forced to participate.

Here are six ideas to get you thinking about new traditions around Christmas and December holidays:

  • The family festive money pool. During the year, everyone in your family contributes an agreed monthly amount. You all then use the money for gifts and goodies in December. Alternatively, everybody who will be under the same roof or in the same place over Christmas, put money into a pool to cover the expenses for the time they will be together. In this way, expenses are shared equally and nobody has to carry an unfair financial burden.
  • Share the effort. Co-host celebrations and parties with a friend or family member. That way one person doesn’t have to do all the cooking and preparing and the hosts can share the costs as well.
  • Share the joy. Instead of cooking a big, expensive feast, you could donate your time to a worthy cause and volunteer as a family.
  • Set limits. Agree on a set amount per person for gifts, or pool everyone’s money to buy one large gift for each family member.
  • Cut down on the food. There is always too much food for holiday meals. Agree to cook less, and include meals made from leftovers in your planning for meals together.
  • Dress to impress. Similar to a money pool, create a clothes pool, especially if your family is large. Instead of people spending money on new fashions for the holidays, agree to put at least one outfit per person into the pool and everybody has to dress out of it at least once. In addition to lighting the financial load, you can have loads of fun by treating it as a dress-up game. Furthermore, the clothes that children have outgrown during the year can go into the clothing pool for the younger, smaller ones to wear.

The festive season is really about spending time with loved ones. Now is a good time to be honest about the traditions and expectations that detract from that joy. Let us create new traditions that also enhance our financial wellness.


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