As much as I love the Christmas holiday, I think that it can also be very stressful. Being a single mom, I still want my children to experience a special and eventful Christmas, but at the same time, I still want to remain financially intact. From August until December my finances are in a whirlwind. August is back to school, so there’s school supplies and new clothes. I also have a brand new college freshman this year to add to the expense. Then there’s September where you have band fees, gymnastic competition fees, preparing for my classroom as a teacher, and any other shopping that I didn’t complete in August. In October, I’m preparing for 2 November birthdays. Both my youngest and middle children are both November babies, and then there’s December. Need I say more? I’ll stop right there, but I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I can name a financial obligation for every month of the year, not including the normal financial obligations.
So although the holidays can be a happy occasion, for a single mom, it can also be down right stressful on an emotional and financial level. But I’m obviously not alone. According to one of my favorite bloggers, David Levine, “38% of people say that their stress levels increase during the holidays.” (American Psychological Association). On a financial note, the financial firm, Principal Financial Group says that 53% of people feel financially stressed by holiday spending even though more than half of the 1000 respondents had created spending budgets.
I think for me the stress comes from feeling like I haven’t enough money to buy the type of gifts that I want for my children, and although I’m making more money than I’ve ever made before, I feel guilty after spending money on Christmas gifts. Another thing that’s stressful is not being at work. Since I teach, I’m off for the holidays, however, I should be preparing my classroom for my students’ return. But instead, I’m home relaxing which is a blessing and very overdue, but still, I like to be prepared for the return of my students. Decorating the house is stressful, but thank goodness for my three children, who take pride in this activity. All I really do is take a few pictures. Meeting up with family members is fun, but I feel that I have to look and feel my best, so if I’m not 100% then I usually approach this event feeling a little ‘off.’
In theory, I realize that the holidays should be a time to relax and decompress from a stressful year. A time to just spend quality time with closest family and just enjoy the moment. But for me it’s much more complicated than that. And as smart as I am, you’d think that I’d ‘get it.’
My goal for next Christmas is to create a holiday budget and stick to it. Adding to debt during the holiday is not smart. Christmas ends up being on big blur, so nobody really remembers the details, yet you end up broke over one commercial holiday. Shopping early may also help alleviate some of the stress instead of waiting until the last minute. And to me, the most important thing that I highly deserve is to take care of myself. I NEVER do this, not even on the long summer breaks, and it’s time for self-care! This way when I return to school for the new year, I’ll feel refreshed and ready.
So when I think peaceful or stressful holiday... Next year, I'm going for peace. See me next December to find out how it turns out.