Holiday Spending Feels Empty

Being a long term saver and bargain shopper, there is something inherently stressful for me about the holidays.

I feel the need to “make it special” and somehow that gets interpreted into LOTS OF BOXES under the tree or for the 8 nights of Hanukkah. I feel forced to buy things that often aren’t needed. And I’ve spent a lifetime trying to only buy what is needed, with an occasional want as a bonus!

Early on, I felt a bit of competition in terms of living up to my Mother-In-Law’s spectacular Christmas mornings, where the opening of presents lasted hours and the pile of boxes were sky high! Once I started down that path, my kids got used to it. So, how do you change your ways?

When my kids were little, I’d make them clean out their room prior to Christmas morning and I’d find items that I gave them last holiday, still in the original package. I’d rationalize that it was only a $10 item, but I knew it went against my belief about spending just for spending sake.

And then I realize I’m conflicted. One year, we decided to not give gifts during some difficult financial times, and I know I felt like we were missing out or at least my children were.

Over the years, I’ve found myself pushing items my children or my husband and I needed, off until December so I can buy them, and give them out during the holidays. It sort of makes sense, but I’m always left feeling like I was coerced to spend for the holidays. And I didn’t take the time to find something really special that would surprise them; I simply put things they needed under the tree.

Then, there’s the awkward moment when a friend gets you a gift but you didn’t reciprocate. And how about tipping the newspaper deliverer, the waste management people, and the mailman? How do you know how far to go?

Does everyone go through the gambit of emotions around holiday spending; about how much to spend and for how many people? Or is it just me? Because of being in the financial industry, am I just hyper aware of spending?

And what about people who simply don’t have the money; do we expect them to give gifts anyways and go into debt? So… this is why I get stressed during the holidays!

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