The holiday season is a time of the year filled with excitement, gifts, and parties. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of go, go, go and spend, spend, spend. It’s also easy to develop “I’ll deal with it later” syndrome.
But after all the celebrations, overindulging on food, drink and spending, the days following the winter holidays can leave you feeling empty, guilty and depressed. Because “I’ll deal with it later” becomes “Crap, it’s later”.
Since you’re reading a personal finance blog, you probably had savings, debt payoff or other financial goals in place before the holidays. So, if you got off track and spent more than you intended, you may feel like you failed.
Does that mean you should just throw your arms up in despair and give up? Um, no. If you spent too much (ate too much, drank too much) over the holidays, you’re not alone. And it doesn’t make you a failure. Okay, you may feel guilty over it, but don’t let the guilt control you. What’s done is done. Choose to let it go and move forward.
How to deal with money and life after the holidays
Choose to stop making the same mistakes.
I know, you’re thinking “Duh, Amanda, why would I keep doing it if I feel bad about it?”. But it happens. I’ve done it. I’ve blown the budget and thought, “Screw it, I already blew it, what does it matter if I spend a little more?”.
Julie at Choose Better Life recently introduced me to a concept that fits perfectly here. It’s called the “What-The-Hell Effect”. According to Julie, it happens when you “…feel that since you’ve already failed, you might as well fail spectacularly.”
Let’s say you went over budget during the holidays, the “what-the-hell effect” kicks in and you think it doesn’t really matter if you spend even more since you already blew it.
Well, actually, it does matter. Just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean you have to keep making it. Don’t let your mistakes own you. Learn from them, fix them and move forward with the lessons you learned.
Maybe you need to stop using the credit cards to get things under control. Maybe you just need to stay home to avoid shopping and going out for a while. Or, maybe you need to join me in my challenge to do a no spend month. Do what you need to do to get back on track.
Plan something to look forward to.
Much of the excitement of the holidays comes from anticipation. Anticipation of giving and receiving gifts, going to parties, visiting with family and friends, and eating all the delicious food. Part of the letdown afterward is there is no longer all those things to look forward to.
So, go ahead and plan something to look forward to. Plan a potluck, game night, or Bowl party to give you something to anticipate and plan for. And then challenge yourself to get creative and keep the expenses next to nothing (have friends bring drinks/food, decorations, games, etc.).
Write “thank you” notes for the gifts you received. Look at photos and write down the memories you created with family and friends. Call a friend and personally thank them for the time you spent together. Look around you…you won’t have to look far to find something to be grateful for. (Check out this post for more ideas on developing a gratitude habit.)
Write down your goals for the upcoming month and year.
January is the perfect time to reset and make a new start. What changes would you like to make? What are your goals and your dreams? What is your why?
Research has shown that actually writing down goals and creating accountability leads to greater success reaching the goals. Write down those goals and create a step by step plan for reaching them.
Part of the beauty of the holidays is giving to others. Giving to others makes us feel happy, energetic and improves mental and physical health. I’ve never heard of anyone feeling bad about doing something nice for someone else. You don’t have to give your money (you can if you can afford it), but give your kindness (open a door), your time (volunteer), or your unused items (shelters).
Giving can also help you when you don’t know exactly what to do or what’s next for you. So, if you really don’t know which direction to go, take this advice from Cait and “help someone else”.
The time after the holidays can be difficult. Getting back to real life is really tough, but facing the challenges of getting goals back on track can make it even harder.
Take it one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time but, most importantly, choose to move forward.