Holidays are always such a balancing act between trying to do everything while staying in the moment to enjoy special time with friends and family. As much as I love to see the kids faces on Christmas morning and doing the countdown on midnight, my favorite moments are taking walks with them. Carving out time for walking and talking, whether it is snowy and idyllic or stomping in slushy puddles (we experienced both this year), is my top holiday sanity saving move. That time outside with family is blissfully free from shopping, gift giving, baking extravaganzas when the pressure for perfection can cloud the moment.
Some years, the shopping and gift giving really runs off the rails. One year was particularly messy, we flew home for the holidays so I shopped online and had stuff shipped ahead of us. However, I did everything in a haphazard way and didn’t write anything down. I arrived at my parent’s house thinking I was done shopping. However, as I unpacked boxes I realized I had over shopped for some people and under shopped for others. This caused me to make several frenzied trips to the mall. My budget was crushed. I don’t think there was any time for calming walks in the woods that year. My number one takeaway from that experience, that I stick to every year, is to write it all out and keep a running tally so I can see where I stand budget-wise. Every person getting a tip or a gift, big or small, is on the list and has gifts and amounts recorded.
As I look back on this year I did pretty well with the holiday budget. In addition to staying organized, I made a real effort to get items that were genuinely wanted rather than items that filled space under the tree. When my dad said he only wanted a couple books and a family photo I took him at his word and didn’t also grab a drone and whatever other gadgets caught my eye.
Looking ahead into 2017, our family has decided to prioritize experiences over things. We have a couple really great trips in mind but know they still need to fit into our overall financial plan. In order to get some extra insight into planning and calculating these trips I took the OnUp Mental Wealth Quiz. My results: “Weigh the cost of an impulse buy versus spending on what matters the most.” Exactly. I knew that, but seeing it in print really helped to underscore that message.
In addition to reinforcing what I knew I needed to do about impulse spending, I loved the practical tips and budgeting tools I found on onUp to help us get on top of our spending. If we are smart about our spending those family trips will be well within our reach. Using the onUp quiz as a jumping off point I created my onUp financial goals for gaining financial confidence in 2017.
- Get Organized: Just today, I set up three bills so they get paid automatically. They were the ones that seemed to come at odd times of the month. Inevitably, I’d end up running around trying to make sure I could find a stamp and get checks in the mail on the last possible day. With auto-pay I’m done with that for 2017 already.
- Ditch the Zombie Monthlies: Getting healthy and more informed is great, paying for gym memberships, premium cable channels and magazines we don’t use isn’t. By the end of the month, we’ll only be paying monthlies for things we actually use.
- Create a Realistic Annual Budget: We’ve budgeted before but haven’t done it in the most informed way. This year we’ve started to track where our money has been going over the last several months so we can set up a plan that is more realistic. Calculating what we need while knowing where things are going will put us in a much better position to meet our longer term financial goals.
Why not check out onUp’s resources like the budget worksheets and savings calculators to plan your onUp goals for the year? Small steps you take now can help you loose the stress and gain confidence as we start a New Year.
At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.
The onUp movement was created to guide millions of people one step at a time towards a more financially confident life without ever losing sight of the moments that matter along the way.
Join the growing number of people transforming their stress into positive motivation to move onUp.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.