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The season of giving…but not too much

It’s the first weekend of November, which means that the holiday shopping season is upon us. Macy’s has had holiday displays up for a while, and pretty soon we’ll start hearing Christmas music. All this leads up to the “most wonderful time of the year.” Yet for many of us, this season of giving is spoiled by the stress of overspending.

With the unemployment rate still hovering around 9 percent, the economy is a major factor in how much people will spend this season. And like the ghost of Christmas past, job security continues to haunt many holiday shoppers.

The economy is still pretty fragile, yet so many of us will still fall prey to spend, spend and spend some more over the next eight weeks. In the face of financial insecurity and job instability, we continue to allow outside pressures to affect us negatively.

Many finance journalists and experts say to save a little bit each month so that the holiday season doesn’t present such a problem money-wise. Putting away a little bit each month or pay period is a good way to avoid a lot of stress. But, with this being the first week of November and the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, saving money now if you haven’t already may be a challenge.

So in this season of giving, give what you can…but not too much.

What does giving too much look like?

It’s charging every single credit card to the max. How many winter holidays have you spent more time stressing than feeling the seasonal happiness? We want to give the best to our kids, siblings and spouses. We need to be in the spirit for the Secret Santa or grab bag at work. And we can’t forget about our friends.

 Take a load off by not racking up too much debt. Lay off the credit cards by not charging things you can’t afford. Yes, it’s the holidays, but that does not mean you need to go broke to be everyone else’s personal Santa Claus.

This holiday season, try to use cash as much as possible – within reason, of course. Studies have shown that when people spend cash, they are more likely to think twice about purchasing something major.

I’m not expecting you to go cold turkey on the credit cards. Maybe you could start out with a 50/50 split; 50 percent of your holiday spending is available cash with the rest going on the credit cards. Or a different percentage – whatever works best for you.

The goal here is to lessen the load on you financially and emotionally. During this season of giving, give to others what you can. But give to yourself the gift of less stress and more holiday love.

Tags: holiday season, this holiday season, season of giving, holiday shopping, Christmas shopping, emotion behind money, chicago personal finance, chicago financial planner, Julie murphy Casserly

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