Have the Best Holiday Ever-Part 4

By in Saving, Wealth


  • The first article in this series directed you to look at how much wealth and success you already have.
  • Part 2 introduced the idea of delaying gratification so that your future will be brighter and your present remains sane.
  • Part 3 provides low cost fun spending alternatives and the benefits of sacrifice.
  • Watch my YouTube video and get motivated to enjoy the “Best Holiday Season Ever“. 

“People are going through frugality fatigue.” Marshel Cohen, NPD Group

In this week’s Money to Burn, Newsweek explores why we can’t stop shopping. If you’ve ever been on a strict diet or rigid spending plan you understand the psychological concept that deprivation leads to a “rebound effect.” In layperson’s terms if you restrict any behavior too much, a counter push back effect ensues. Economists call it “pent up demand.”   I just call it binging!

MAIN TOPIC: Understand Holiday Binging

When I was an adolescent, my go-to behavior for stress and discomfort was food. As anyone who’s been a teen knows, there is a lot of pressure growing up. Am I pretty enough? Do boys like me?, Did I say the wrong thing?, Am I going to get into a good college? Does my best friend hate me? The list of worries and anxieties goes on. Lacking much discipline, I hit the refrigerator pretty hard in those days. That binging behavior didn’t work out too well, since it did not solve my problems and just made me fat! Of course, being fat led to the extreme dieting; let’s see if I can eat nothing today and then I’ll get thin really fast. The only thing that happens when you eat nothing one day is that you are sooooo hungry the next that you eat double the amount of calories you need and the net result is the opposite of weight loss! Cutting out all sweets, starches etc. worked great-for about a day! Then, you guessed it, another binge.

Although this article is not about how to lose weight, it could be. The principles for change are the same whether you want to lose weight or reduce holiday spending.


According to Newsweek (December 6, 2010), 89 % of Americans reported to Gallup that they’re monitoring their spending. In reality, the data shows that spending is increasing this year.  Last month, household spending went up for the fifth month in a row. Take out spending on cars, and Americans’ are spending more now than before the economic crisis!


The external and internal pressures to spend are everywhere. Last month I wrote about Why I Don’t Want an iPad, and since that article was published not a day goes by without countless advertisers showing me how great the iPad really is.  It is impossible to avoid the ever-present pressure to BUY BUY BUY. KMart is touting the reemergence of LAYAWAY. For goodness sakes, whatever happened to, “If you don’t have the money now, then do not buy?”

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Step-by-step Holiday Plan

I frequently talk about the importance of aligning spending with values. What that means is figure out what in life is most important toyou and then, spend on that. If your family loves travel, and you have a limited budget, then other “wants” must be traded for travel. Most of us have limited resources. We can’t buy everything we want.

This article is NOT about ZERO  spending. Be aware of what really matters to you and your family. Christine at Money Funk pulled together some practical suggestions. Think about the message you want to impart to your children. Recognize that if you deprive yourself too much, the result is a push back of excessive spending.

Step 1: Be mindful

In the Mindfulness Movement of popular psychology, the underlying premise is this; in every moment think, be aware, and make a conscious choice in your actions. Use this mindset for your holiday spending. Slow down, take a breath and act deliberately.

Step 2: Guard against the external spending pulls

Remember to evaluate the advertisements, television shows, and whining of your children. Separate your true values and priorities from those of your neighbors and the media. (I’m proud that the car I drive is the oldest of all my friends’ cars; a new car is not where I want my money to go) Recognize that too much deprivation leads to excess.

Step 3: Be deliberate and make a plan

Write out a budget, both for your money and your time. Decide which activities are worth your time. Prioritze spending to align with your values.

Step 4: Practice step-by-step goal setting

Make your goals, and priorities manageable. Set small and reasonable expectations. Spend only $30 this holiday season is probably not achievable :). Forgive yourself for small indescretions. No one is perfect and as they say in AA; practice progress NOT perfection.


image credit: AForestFrolic


What are your strategies to make this the best holiday season ever?