smiling woman in blazer with coffee cup

Mentally & Financially Preparing for Holidays

by Liz Kitchell

It’s November and the holiday season is upon us! Normally, I am very excited about the chance to connect with friends and family, but this year, I’m feeling a mix of excitement, frustration, and worry.  This time last year, Covid wasn’t a household term and masks weren’t part on anyone’s shopping list. In fact, we were well out of the holiday season before Covid became part of our daily reality. This year, we will be experiencing the holidays with Covid ever-present. 

By nature, I’m an Accumulator. My inner banker always put the brakes on excessive spending. During the holidays, I’m able to trot out my Nurturer, and buy gifts and create experiences for the family and friends to remember for an entire year! Creative (and sometimes expensive) gifts, big parties with bright and shiny decorations. And food. Lots and lots of comfort food and food for celebrating! 

This year looks to be different. The parties, if there are any, will be smaller. I may choose new ways to shop (more online?) or more curbside pick-up to support the local stores. 

Now, with about 6 weeks til the big holiday celebrations that are part of your ritual, is the time to create YOUR vision for the holiday season filled with love, laughter, and just the right amount of spending without feeling the January Blues.  If you haven’t been stashing away a Holiday Fund, then this vision exercise is extremely important to ensure you don’t feel depressed or anxious when the credit card bills show up in January and February. 

How do you create this vision? There are a ton of tools out there, but Mind Mapping is my favorite. Mind Mapping is a brainstorming tool that lets you create without too many details to bog you down early. 

To get started, grab a blank piece of paper and some colored pens. If you’re feeling really creative, get some crayons and markers as well. 

Sit quietly for a few minutes and imagine some of the events of THE PAST that you have always been important. Maybe it’s a special party with the neighbors, a religious service, a gift-giving experience. Relive the events in technicolor and surround-sound. Taste and smell the food. 

Then ask yourself these questions: What are the top 3 things that made this event so important. What are the things that I want to recreate? Is it a particular thing? Or is it the overall experience of love, happiness, laughter, or something else?  Write those things down in no particular order. 

On your paper, put a circle in the middle with a bunch of lines extending from it, like a sun you drew when you were a kid. At the end of each line, put another circle big enough for writing words in it. Now make all of these new circles int their own suns by adding a few lines (like rays from the sun). 

In the center circle, write the words “Holiday 2020”. 

On each of the rays, write important things from your visioning exercise, such as “who” (people that were there that you want to see again this year); “what” as in the physical things that are important to have around, “emotions” such as the kind of emotions you want to feel, “events” to name the events that are important for the season, and maybe even a ray with “surprises” on it!  

When you get to the smaller “suns”, write more detail about it.  

Now look at your creation! Does it represent what you want to create? You can do this with your family so that you all have a similar vision and one similar pages.

Here’s the important, and probably toughest, part. Create a priority list and put a dollar value on how much you’re willing to spend to make it happen. Then stick to the budget. It’s helpful if sticking to the budget is one of the “rays” you all agree on as well! 

Once my mind map is complete, I have a better idea how much money I will be spending on things I have decided are important and it allows me to be more spontaneous knowing how much wiggle room I have…. I can make a quick decision when asked to be spontaneous and relax about it.  

Spending this time in advance saves me time and money planning out how I want to feel, what I want to do and how I want to feel when done. It also allows to me to prioritize my money and energy in advance so when faced with a question or decision, I can make a quicker decision if it fits into one of the categories I put into its own circle in my mind map. 

It is easy to overextend our wallets, energy, and feelings this time of year, so creating a little clarity in advance is powerful and the best self-care you can do for yourself! 

Liz Kitchell is the President and Co-Founder of SheMoolah, and owner of Liz Kitchell Coaching. After decades coaching individuals through Liz Kitchell coaching, her new company will provide a stronger platform for disrupting the “old school” financial conversations to bring balance to the  logical and experiential sides of money so people can find true freedom in life. @Shemoolah on Facebook and Instagram.