The Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year, but in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be stressful for team members who are grappling with reduced income and yet feel that they have to spend to celebrate properly. So instead of feeling love, peace, and joy this Christmas, they end up feeling stressed, anxious, and guilty.
“Financial worries can lead to poor mental health and productivity.” says Mariel Bitanga, a financial planner and founder of Simply Finance, a boutique financial planning firm committed to empowering women. “And it can get worse during this time of the year when people end up overspending and enter January with less savings or in debt.”
To ease the anxiety and achieve financial wellness, your team needs to be more mindful and responsible about how they manage their money during the holiday season. Here are some suggestions you can share with them:
- Start early. Ideally, planning for the holidays should begin in the months leading to December, not during December itself. This way, you have a head start in setting aside cash and avoid the panic that comes with scrounging for funds when D-Day comes along. MindNation WellBeing Coaches are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7 to help your team set goals and build better habits. Visit http://www.mindnation.com to know more about the MindNation CareNow Plan©.
- Make a list, check it twice, and stick to it. Just as your parents taught you to never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach because you’ll end up buying more food than you originally planned, neither should you do your holiday shopping without a ready list of recipients and corresponding budget.
- Great gifts don’t need to be expensive. “Scour online for cheap but useful finds,” Mariel advises. “If you are crafty, make something out of your own hands. Lastly, promote sustainability by normalizing giving secondhand gifts, like a dress that doesn’t fit you anymore but you know will look good on your friend.”
Gifts can also be non-material. “During these tough times, a simple gesture or word of encouragement will mean the world to someone who is struggling,” assures Mariel.
- “Don’t go into debt just to impress people or make them happy,” Mariel says. This means you shouldn’t feel obliged to give gifts if you really cannot afford it. “If the gift giver is sincere and a real friend, they will not expect anything in return; just don’t forget to say ‘thank you,’” she adds.
- When all the spending is done, reflect on what you could have done better and set your goals for NEXT YEAR. “Financial responsibility entails a lot of self-reflection,” Mariel reminds. “When you have the time, sit down and audit your finances. Think about what you can improve on, and what your financial goals are for the following year so that you can start preparing.” A financial planner can help you outline your goals in an objective manner, help you make sense of the computations, and create recommendations and action steps to fulfill those goals. “We’re here to give advice and present a clearer picture about your financial status,” Mariel explains.
And in case you do overspend or miss out on your financial goals this Christmas season, forgive yourself. “We are going through tough times right now, so don’t be too hard on yourself,” Mariel assures. “There are always ways to change the financial plan and save more, you just have to be creative and trust the process.”