How to reduce your money stress this festive season

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The year is finally done and most people are looking forward to spending time with their loved ones.

The most obvious impact the holidays have on us is financial as we tend to eat, travel and spoil ourselves more during this time.

What many don’t consider though, are the emotional and psychological impacts of the holidays and how best to deal with them. Expectations are always high for those fortunate enough to have employment and invariably they have to look after extended family members.

This added financial stress can place a lot of pressure on one’s psychological well-being. So, what can we do?

A few ways to reduce your stress

These few tips can help you through the holiday season with less stress:

Get into the habit of talking about money.

The good, the bad and the ugly. Get your family together and have an honest conversation about the days and weeks to come and what is possible given your and everyone’s financial situation. Honesty is key to keeping everyone in the loop and avoiding unrealistic expectations that could lead to disappointment, confrontation or stress.

Create a budget for yourself and for your family.

Get everyone involved so that they all buy into the process and the numbers. Work out upfront what you can afford to spend. Then decide what you will be spending that money on and stick to it. Use the Smart About Money Budget planner. 

Look for activities that you can do together as a family, which require little or no money at all.

Things like taking walks, picnics, and playing board and card games. These are inexpensive activities and can keep everyone entertained for hours.

Do not get tempted to consider quick fixes.

Many unscrupulous individuals are masquerading as financial professionals preying on desperate and unsuspecting individuals who need money. Do not fall into the trap of exorbitant debt or committing your hard-earned money to structures you do not understand. Oftentimes, the effects of such actions are far worse than having no money.

Speak to a professional – a therapist, a money coach or a financial adviser - about your situation if you feel that you are not coping or just need a sounding board. A money coach or adviser who has some coaching skills can help you with your budget and guide you on how to set boundaries with family or friends or how to tackle debt.

Help is always at hand, but you need to acknowledge that you need it. And it does not have to cost you a lot of money. Read more: How do I find a financial advisor who is right for me

Doing your best

As a financial planner, I get to encounter people from all walks with many different financial situations. What is clear with all these interactions is that people want the best for themselves and for the people close to them and do not always know the best ways to go about it.

Do not suffer in silence. Do not think you are the only one going through difficulty. That you alone should help to put things in perspective and make the load lighter.

Have a happy and safe holiday season and always remember that the subject of money is as much about finances as it is about emotions. Be mindful of the impact your financial situation has on your psychological and emotional state.

Gugu Sidaki is an independent financial planner and co-founder of the financial planning and wealth management practice Wealth Creed. She holds the Certified Financial Planner accreditation and is an author and financial literacy enthusiast.

This article was first published on initiative by the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA).

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