So many times when we think of wellness we exclude our day to day responsibilities, as if they don’t play into the picture – but here, I wanted to embrace them as one of my three pillars to creating a happy, healthy life. Ultimately, we are all striving for balance and part of that is knowing how to balance our busy lifestyle and even balance our checkbook.
As a Loan Consultant, I work with people every day guiding them through one of the biggest purchases they will ever make, but such a big purchase depends on how we manage our money in our day to day life. It really comes down to the small stuff.
In this section of my website, I wanted to feature pertinent articles about task management, organization and financial wellness. Instead of separating this as just something we do to get by, let’s bring some of that intentional thinking into our responsibilities and obligations.
Letting our wellness bleed into our responsibilities and transforming responsibilities into choices is truly an evolved way of thinking and can free us from the grind. It’s a practice, just like everything else and we can do it together.
Planning for the holiday season – without losing your mind and all your money
By Michelle Chamberlain
The holiday season is right around the corner. Kids are heading back to school, crisp fall mornings are creeping in, and as I sit and write this, there are just over a 100 days until Christmas. Did your heart just do a back flip into your throat? Yeah me too. It’s okay if you’re not ready. You are not alone.
I compare heading into the fall or holiday season, to dragging a small child away from the beach. Toes are firmly digging into the sand, willing themselves not to move. Don’t get me wrong, fall is actually my favorite season, and no, not because me daughter goes back to school. Okay maybe just a little. This time of year I’m always filled with a sense of excitement, nervousness, wonderment, and a bit of stress sprinkled in there for added flavor and to keep me on my toes.
I try to keep my stress level down to a minimum though because the holidays and fun family time can hold its own amount of stress. Stay with me because what I’m about to say might have you rolling your eyes: How I lower my stress level, especially regarding Christmas, is I start Christmas shopping in May, sometimes even January. I know, I know the thought of that just sounds crazy. But hear me out, I’ll lay it all down for you and give you some great tips on how to be prepared and stay on budget for this Christmas season.
I think the key to heading into fall and all that accompanies this time of year without going completely insane and broke, is organization. Depending on where you live, your kids may have started school by now. That means school supplies, clothes and new shoes are off your list. If you haven’t written “Get school supplies, clothes and shoes” for little Sally Sue on a list, do that right now because then you can run a black marker through that “to do” and feel the thrill of accomplishment.
I rely on lists all throughout the year; seasonal house to do lists, summer fun lists, birthday lists, and Christmas lists. Lists not only keep me on track for what I want to accomplish but once I finish something on my list, I feel pretty damn good. And if you have a smartphone, keeping lists organized and at the ready is really simple. I use an app called “Evernote”. It’s free, and great for making all sorts of lists and keeping them private. You wouldn’t want everyone to know what you’re planning on getting them for Christmas.
Let’s say school shopping is done, you don’t have to worry about that for at least another year. But we still have Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. So let’s start with Halloween. What are your plans? Having a halloween party? Probably want to start planning, and sending out invites soon because people make plans way in advance. This is where those lists come in handy. Set a budget and be realistic about it. You can throw a great party on a budget because the Dollar Tree store exists and aren’t we happy about that. Maybe you just need some costumes this year because you are going out trick or treating, or better yet you were invited to a Halloween party where you just show up!
At dinner tonight talk about what everyone wants to be. Go to Amazon and see what they have, or re-use a costume from last year. You can check out Costco, which always has a selection of popular costumes this time of year. I love visiting Zulily.com to see what they have. I usually hand over my phone to my daughter and let her scroll through the costumes on there and she picks one out. Sometimes I have her pick two, one to have as a backup. Two minutes later it’s ordered and for a great price. Pinterest is also my go to place to find neat ideas for Halloween. One year my daughter and I went as does. No costume needed, just some patience and make-up. I think we both wore pajamas that year with our cute little made up faces.
Okay Halloween is done, or on it’s way to being completed. Let’s talk about Thanksgiving. This should be pretty simple right. It’s just inviting 10-15 of your closest and favorite relatives over for football and lots of food. No problem. Might want to hide the alcohol, Uncle Bob and Aunt Lucinda can be lushes at times. Thanksgiving is another one of those holidays that not only can be stressful, and expensive, have you priced out prime rib? Oh My Goodness! But it also takes planning. Every other year I host Thanksgiving, and I have to tell you it’s actually my favorite holiday, and I do not, by any means, hide the alcohol. When it’s my year to host I start by making, yes, you guessed it, a list. Who am I inviting? What am I making? What time should dinner be at?
Thanksgiving is also a great holiday for kids to help out in the kitchen cooking or making great little Thanksgiving crafts which I love to use as place holders or centerpieces. You can look up on google, or pinterest how to make turkeys out of pine cones. You probably have all the supplies minus the googly eyes, but again that’s why the Dollar Store was invented.
These are seriously the cutest!!!
Thanksgiving planning is in the hat. Drum roll please… Here’s Christmas! Again I use my handy list. I list out all my family and friends who I plan on getting or making gifts for. All my daughters’ friends, teachers and the school bus driver. Yes, I give our bus driver a gift, because that’s not a fun job at times and I’m a believer in making sure people feel appreciated.
I start filling out these lists as I mentioned before, pretty early in the year, but it’s never too late to get started. Make a list, check it twice… you see where I’m going with this.
Another little helpful tip is starting in January, every time you go to the grocery store to buy your weeks worth of food, grab a gift card and put $10 or $20 on it. By the time December rolls around you’ll have about $400 or more in gift cards to spend on Christmas gifts. I’ll be honest I have yet to do this, but I plan on it starting next year.
I usually have most of my family and friends gifts done by fall and then I start on getting little things for my husband and daughter. Because my daughter is only seven, and she changes her mind about things she wants for Christmas, I save her for last.
Another Christmas gift tip I love is buying up a lot of little Christmas gifts, perfect for stocking stuffers, right after Christmas. Last year I bought cute Christmas squishies at Walgreens for .25 a piece. So I bought a basket full, some for my kiddo, and some for her friends.
Last Christmas gift tip that saves you money: homemade gifts. No, I’m not talking about making your mom a picture frame out of popsicle sticks, although she is your mother, and she’ll probably love it, your 40 now, so let’s go a tad bigger. If you aren’t particularly crafty, I bet you anything you have a friend that is. And if you are lucky enough, that friend might just love you so much he/she’s willing to spend a day, maybe more, crafting and helping you make great gifts for family, friends, teachers and even the bus driver.
So this holiday season, grab it by the-you-know-what and take back control. Make a list, make a budget and stick to it. Let the dread and stress go and fill up on the wonderment, and excitement of the holiday season. Enjoy this time with your friends and family. Let them see you happy and stress free. Maybe bring out the alcohol. Let Uncle Bob and Aunt Lucinda have a little fun, after all it is the holidays!
Ok – so many people have been telling me that Jen Sincero and I would be best friends so I decided to check out her book. It’s amazing. Even though I had visited the topics before, the way she presents makes you think, entertains you and in many cases gives you a good giggle. I would recommend this for anyone who needs a little inspiration in their lives, or if you are feeling overwhelmed, this is a MUST READ.
About The Author…
Michelle Chamberlain… Washougal, WA resident. Born and raised in the beautiful PNW. Friend, mommy, wife and general doer of all the things, and she does them so very well.