The holidays can take a lot out of us and in the midst of all that joyful hustle and bustle, we can end up overspending. That’s why Suntrust Bank want to help us be meaningful within our means. Any bank can talk to us about just money. They want to turn the conversation to a different currency and ask us to think differently this year. It’s about depositing hope, instead of checks. And withdrawing stress, instead of cash. It’s about indulging in the currency of kindness and giving more than we receive.
Because the things that mean the most to you, are well within your means.
Now that I am grown and have children of my own I often reflect on childhood memories during the holidays. Interesting enough, none of my memories necessarily include gifts. Instead, holiday traditions come to the forefront of my mind.. Since we don’t live close to either one of our families, we’ve incorporated traditions from both of our families as well as created new ones of our own.
One of my favorite traditions is my mom’s homemade Christmas breakfast. When I lived at home, she made the same breakfast every Christmas morning. After we opened up our presents with my immediate family both sets of grandparents would come over and we would all share breakfast together. I always loved having my entire extended family together sharing a meal together while making memories. It was also my absolute favorite breakfast. Now that I have my own family, I prepare the same breakfast on Christmas morning. Even though our families don’t live close enough to join us, I always think of them while enjoying breakfast with my family.
One thing I have learned, if I’m not careful I can make a holiday meant for joy and peace to instead to be stressful all in the name of creating traditions for my families. In fact, I’ve been on a mission the past couple of years to simplify our holiday. With the added stresses of finances, traveling to see family, gift buying, and everything else that goes into the holiday season it’s so easy to get off track. As adults we spend A LOT of time trying to recreate those feelings and memories we had as children. While we may succeed, we also tend to create a lot of stress while money is just sucked right out of us. Meaningful within Your Means is a challenge to try or do something differently this year so that we can avoid a case of the “overs-” and create lasting meaningful memories of the holidays.
There are 3 “areas” of this challenge. Try and do something from each area.
1. YOU – no one’s holiday is going to be enjoyable if you are not able to enjoy it yourself. You need to make time for yourself daily/weekly.
a. Liberate – Skip that ritual that stresses you out!…newsletter style holiday cards, baking 50 dozen cookies, Griswold style Christmas lights…)
b. Let go of perfectionism.
c. While you may have an iron clad budget, do you have a holiday budget? Use the holiday planning guide to make sure you have accounted for all those expenses that sneak up through the holiday season…going to 6 holiday parties can get expensive! What is the going rate for a sitter these days? Going away? Need to board a dog or get a pet sitter? $$$
d. Manage expectations early on – this is one that can have the biggest impact to your budget. Gift giving…everyone, draw names, nothing…you need to soon so that everyone is on board
2. TOGETHER – Being with family and friends is what the holidays are all about.
a. Do something together as a family every week in Dec – something FREE. Drive around and look at lights, hot chocolate and holiday specials night, look for community activities to participate in, family tacky sweater day…
b. In lieu of gifts, you and your friends do something together as a group. Potluck at someone’s house, reservations at that great new restaurant everyone has been wanting to try.
3. GIVE – there are many opportunities to give during the holidays. This is also a great time to teach children the importance of giving. This is something that also makes a great TOGETHER activity, giving your time to volunteer as a family.
a. Instead of gifts, make a donation to a charity that is important to you. You can make one large one in honor of all your friends and family or divide up into groups (family, different circles of friends –work, neighborhood, college etc) and make smaller donations to a few groups
b. Ask your church or a church in your community if they know of any families that need a little “extra” this season and put together a care package for them to be delivered anonymously.
My daughter and I volunteering at the “Magi Project.”
Personally, I am accepting the Meaningful within our Means challenge for my family. With a brand new baby this year, I’ve got to be intentional, otherwise I’ll end up stressed. I’ve included my personal commitments below:
YOU – It’s all about simplification for me this year. I’m not stressing about mailing out the perfect Christmas card to friends and family. Honestly, the added expense is just not in our budget this year. It’s smarter to stick to our budget and be intentional in all of our commitments to reduce stress. (Here’s a link to a holiday budget planning spreadsheet to help ensure you stay within your means!) We have a brand new baby this year, I can easily let go of perfectionism. I just want to create meaningful memories with my family.
TOGETHER - Since neither of our families live close by I want to be intentional to get together with friends during the holidays to celebrate the season. I’m committed to keeping it simple, and not creating added stress with fancy meals. With our families, I’d like to focus on creating memories and experiences together as a family instead of focusing on gift giving.
GIVING – Giving is my favorite part of the Christmas season. We always incorporate giving with our children. We also volunteer time at our church to help with benevolence ministries. I am committed to continuing this tradition with our family.
At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. They want to help you reduce holiday stress through tools, advice, and inspiration that encourages you to make your holidays meaningful by spending within your means and focusing on meaningful experiences.
To get started visit suntrust.com/holiday
Meaningful spending made easy with a budgeting tool to help you make a plan and stay on track with your holiday spending. Download here.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.