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The Holidays and Why Do Money Different?

November 21, 2022

The Big Three holidays hit within 38 days of each other this year. They are three of my favorite days, and perhaps some of your favorite days as well.

  • Thanksgiving. It's amazing how much can get crammed into a long weekend. It's a happy whirlwind of food, miles, people, food, gratitude, shopping, food, football and movies.
  • Christmas. I'm still a believer that it's the "most wonderful time of the year." Did anyone else read that sentence like the song goes, with a hard pause between "most" and "wonderful"?  People are kinder to one another and go out of their way to be generous. You see adults in toy aisles trying to see the latest and greatest toys through the lens of the kids they love. Sharing treats with neighbors, Christmas cards, the delight of having a gift for someone you know they'll love—it's magic.
  • New Years. At the end of the year, it seems we are collectively and individually ready for a clean slate. We celebrate all that went so right in the year we're ringing out. And celebrate a whole new opportunity to be the person you’ve wanted to be all along. It all feels possible and exciting.

In the holiday season, there is so much good. So much generosity, hope for the future, gratitude, friends, family, fun, magic.

But mixed in to all the goodness above, there's also hard. There is stress of various flavors. Loneliness and longing. Big plans for the future are tempered by uncertainty and sometimes apathy. Your life may not look at all like a Hallmark movie and you wish it did.

So, what do the holidays have to do with identifying your "why"?

Well, by approaching them with intention, we can experience more joy during this season. And also, we can tap into what we feel at this time of year to learn what we want more of and less of in the new year.

One reason the holidays can be hard is that goals and dreams can feel as far away as ever. That life hasn't panned out as you hoped or planned.  You may be grateful for so much of your life, and yet still long for relationships or wish for funds to pursue your dreams.

Use this to your life and financial advantage.  Financial? Yes—there is almost always a financial component to our goals and dreams. And wanting to be in a different place by next Thanksgiving can fuel happy financial change in the new year.

If you haven't articulated your why, or that why feels impossible, it's a lose-lose proposition. And it's no wonder you don't want to try again. "Hey, would you like to spend more time managing your money to give up everything you enjoy?" Hard no.

In contrast, when you know your "why" and see it as possible, you will 100% want to change your monthly money management (aka budget).  Not from a place of deprivation, but from a place of gratitude and excitement.

I've seen clients go from spinning to winning with monthly money when they pick their purpose. Some of those purposes have been:

  • getting out of debt
  • feeling like a better steward of their resources
  • being able to cash flow school
  • not acquire any more debt during school
  • buy their own home
  • have money in savings
  • be able to open their own business.

What does it look like to approach the holidays with intention?

Here are 3 ideas to get you started.

1. Pick someone you can unexpectedly delight.

A couple years ago, my childhood best friend and I decided to exchange Christmas stockings. Her marriage had ended and mine hasn't begun. And both of us were missing that element of surprise at Christmas.

While the contents of the stocking are unexpected, the gift itself isn't. And here's where the unexpected part comes in. Find someone this Christmas who is expecting nothing from you. It could be because they don't know you, or because you're not that close of friends. I think you'll be shocked at just how good it feels to surprise someone and restore their faith in humanity.

2. Think about how you would like someone to delight you at Christmas, and provide that for yourself.

This may sound selfish, but it's a gift to yourself and others to not put your expectations on anyone else. Or feel self-pity that you don't have someone to provide it for you. Or that people in your life can't read your mind to know you want it.

3. Reflect on what your longings might be telling you.

Where would you like to be by next Thanksgiving, and what you'd like to be grateful for? I’m talking about things that are in your control:

  • Learning to trust more.
  • Learning to be more grateful for even the mundane “ordinary” days.
  • Learning how to manage your money in a way you can love.
  • Stop spinning in disorganized living. A favorite quote from a favorite author: “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” One example: if you’ve been complaining about passwords for 3 years, could it be time to use a password manager?
  • Rekindling a sense of wonder at the natural world.
  • Forgive someone.
  • Finally making a job change.
  • Finding a service opportunity that really ignites you.

I am a firm believer joy being available to all of us, and that the holidays are so much more than something to get through. It's a season to help each other in bigger ways, and connect with what it is you're longing to do in life. Those longings matter, a lot. Because when you turn that longing into a purpose—a why—you can really get on purpose.

And if any these thoughts resonated, I think you'll enjoy this 1-page journal printable for approaching the season with more intention.

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy this related post:

Cover of the cheat sheet: 7 strategies that change your money and life—for good
In this cheat sheet, you’ll get easy access to the 7 strategies that make all the difference in monthly money management you can love
These strategies turn budgeting into something empowering, and gets you in the driver's seat of your money. All without deprivation, coupon clipping (unless you want to), or feeling guilty about your spending.
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