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How to take the (financial) stress out of the Holidays

Yep, we are talking holiday's already.


Because you’re not the only one who finds holiday expenses tough to manage.

According to NerdWallet’s 2020 Holiday Travel Report, 1 in 12 Americans who put 2019 holiday travel expenses on a credit card were still paying for twelve months later. 😮

Year after year, new clients of mine experienced the same thing…

The. Holidays. Were. A. Budget. Killer.

Guess what? It doesn’t have to be that way this year. 

Don’t wait until the end of November and December to start thinking about these types of expenses. Including holiday expenses in your budget NOW so that you are not caught off guard.

Follow these 5 steps to set you up for success and have you feeling in control of your finances this holiday season. 🥳

Step 1: Open A Separate Savings Account!

Set up a savings account just to house your holiday spending. I love Ally Bank’s Saving Account and the virtual savings buckets it allows you to establish. Check out my most popular blog post on how my clients use one savings account to save for multiple goals and expenses. 

Step 2: Brainstorm Session!

Grab your coffee and brainstorm all the expenses that come with the holiday season. I know this can feel overwhelming, so I created the Ultimate Holiday Budget Cheatsheet to take the guesswork out. 

This Cheatsheet was created for my clients, but I want to offer it to you for the next 30 days. Snag it now

Step 3: Move past the obvious holiday expenses!

Move past the obvious holiday expenses and identify those holiday expenses you continue to overlook when in the thick of the holiday season.  

Here are a few that my clients have identified:

  • Christmas Magic. These can be budget killers as we don’t think twice about expenses around decorations, a Christmas tree, wrapping paper, lights, and gift tags. 
  • Food.  If you’re hosting Thanksgiving or a holiday party or dinner, you’ve probably planned for the expense. (You did that, right?) Even if you’re not hosting, you’ll probably bring an appetizer, dessert, drink, or small gift.
  • Kids. Kids generally come with lots of little gifting needs — coaches, teachers, therapists, piano teachers all make a difference in your kid’s life, and you want to acknowledge that. This is great, but we must recognize this adds up.  
  • Group gifts. These add up quickly and are usually spontaneous. In the past, have you needed a Secret Santa gift to your office or a holiday potluck with your yoga crew? 
  • Entertainment. If you’re planning to see Nightmare Before Christmas 🙋🏼‍♀️, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, or Zoo lights, you need to factor in those costs too.
  • Travel. Big travel is usually easy to account for. But have you factored in the nickel and dime type expenses? (Snacks, different weather clothing, TSA precheck, baggage, lunch pit stop, parking, or Ubers.) 
  • Clothing. You and your family might want new outfits for your holiday photos, travel, or gatherings.
  • Holiday cards. Not going to lie; these types of expenses make me so uncomfortable. We don’t send out Christmas Cards every year as it makes me uncomfortable spending hundreds of dollars on holiday cards, postage, and snail-mail. However, I’ll happily pay for a photographer to capture my family for the year. 
  • Donations. Any religious or charitable donations you usually make this time of year. 

Step 4: Begin Budgeting for them now!

Ok, you did the hard work.

  1) Opened separate savings account just for holiday spending

  2) Did a deep dive into estimated holiday expenses

Now add it all up! How do you feel when you see the total? Is it more or less than you anticipated?

If it’s more, see where you can slim back. Maybe you need to get a bit more creative on where you’re getting your Christmas decoration or how much you are spending on gifts. 

This next step is a game changer!

Step 5: Divide and Conquer

Take your estimated total for all categories on the Ultimate Holiday Budget Cheatsheet and divide by the number of paychecks or weeks before December 15th. 

 Total of all estimated holiday expenses (from Step 4): _________

 Divide that number  by the number of weeks until Dec 15th: _______

 Save this much per week in your holiday savings account = ________

I get it, this may feel overwhelming, but once done:

    • You will have more clarity on how expensive the holidays can get.

    • You created a system to stop the cycle of Oh S*it moments.

    • Now holiday spending is a line item in your monthly budget. 

    • You will feel so much more in control of your finances and remove the financial stress and anxiety around the holidays. 

Bonus Step: Look for opportunities to spend less!

  • Buy Nothing Facebook Groups
  • OfferUp
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • ThredUp
  • Letgo
  • PoshMark
  • Discounted Gift Card at Costco
  • Groupons
  • Handmade Gifts

Coach’s Tip:

Save your notes for next year.

Each year your holiday expenses will become more and more streamlined.

 There is nothing better than feeling in control!

Don’t wait until the end of November and December to start thinking about these expenses. Including holiday expenses in your budget NOW so that you are not caught off guard. 

If there is one thing that I have seen a significant shift within my clients, after all, we went through in 2020, is they want to FEEL IN CONTROL

Take these 5 steps today to feel in control of your 2021 Holiday Expenses. 

Meet MicKallyn

mickallyn ellis in her office

Hi, I’m MicKalyn, a Mortgage Lender/Banker turned Financial Coach. When student loans put me in debt, I know I didn’t want to live the rest of my life paying them off, so I figured out how to pay them all off in just a year. Now I have zero debt3 homes4 college degrees and raising two little boys. I’ve traveled to over 22 countries and live a debt-free life. I’m committed to helping others do the same through 1-on-1 private coaching.

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