here are three weeks left in 2017 and it’s all too easy to get swept away with plans, tasks, projects, events, shopping and the holiday buzz. It takes something to slow down, practice self-care, and connect with what’s actually important. Here are some practical steps for achieving financial freedom, during the holidays or anytime:
1. Try debit-only spending: Research shows that people tend to overspend by up to 23% simply by using a credit card. Spending money borrowed from your future is a slippery slope, and credit card induced magical thinking can lead to financial hangovers. True financial freedom comes being in the present moment, being realistic about how much you can afford and practicing conscious guilt-free spending.
2. Practice a no-spend day: The best antidote to overspending during the holidays is to go on a “fast,” meaning pledging not to spend any money on a particular day. Invite a friend or family member to try it with you. Use the down time for relaxing, creative projects, reading, exercise, decorating, calling an old friend, or you could even create a proactive holiday spending plan. Pick one day between now and January 1st to enjoy not spending.
3. Focus on the simple things: Deep breaths are quick, grounding and powerful. The hard part is remembering to use this tool. There is so much to see and feel right here: sunlight coming through the window, our family members and friends without assumptions or expectations, and the beauty in nature during winter. Gifts are wonderful and may even be your primary “love language”; still, there are many meaningful ways to spend little or no money during the holidays. Try giving your full presence in lieu of overdoing presents this year. Words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and homemade gifts are often more memorable than big-ticket items.
4. Be honest: Think about how you want 2018 to be different financially, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Do a year-end review of how much you earned, how much you spent, and how much you saved or invested. Make a plan for your health and self-care. Set up accountability with a group, a friend, or even with the help of an app. Have a conversation with a loved one you’ve been putting off. But mostly, identify something nourishing that really lights you up and then create space in your schedule for more of that.
5. Be intentional: Practice this growth mindset by aligning the vision you have for your life with your behavior. Has it been more than two years since you received or gave yourself a raise? It’s time. What support do you need to feel more confident and experience true peace of mind about money? You may need a new accountant, financial planner, personal assistant, investment adviser, bookkeeper, or money coach. Draft a financial action plan. This list should include everything and anything that will increase income, stop leaks in spending, reduce expenses, and expand your savings.
“To thine own self be true,” Shakespeare wrote in “Hamlet.” I used to think that swiping the credit card meant financial freedom. I was in the thick of money fog and denial. Coming to reality involved a tough journey of self-reflection, truth telling, making amends to myself and others, and following through on needed changes. Once I created a healthy and sustainable relationship with money, everything in my life changed for the better. One of the many lessons I learned is that true financial freedom comes from having integrity around money and living within your means — especially during the holidays.
How do you feel or think about these septs to financial freedom? Do you have any experience with them, are you willing to try some out, or do you see no benefit in them?
Leave your comment below, and I’ll be sure to follow up with you.