How to Reduce Financial Anxiety Around the Holidays

The holidays are wonderful—lots of fun celebrations, family, gifts and joy. But for many of us, they are anything but the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, they can be incredibly stressful. According to a Healthline survey, around 50 percent of Americans feel significantly stressed about money during the holidays. In fact, many of us would prefer to skip the holiday season altogether, grinch-style.

But money (or a lack thereof) doesn’t have to wreck our holiday spirits. The holidays don’t have to be a financial pain in the neck. With some smart planning and managing, you can have a stress-free holiday season, no matter how skinny your wallet. Here’s how.

Make a financial spreadsheet.

I know this sounds super boring to some of you—my former self included—but hear me out. Take a few hours to write out your costs for the month—rent, bills, et cetera—and compare that to your income and savings to determine how much you can actually afford to spend around the holidays.

It might be more than you think. It also might be less, but at least you’ll be aware. Financial ignorance is what gets us into debt and real trouble.

If the idea of a ‘spreadsheet’ puts you on edge, think of it as a ‘chart’ or a ‘list’. Do what works for you, so you can be realistic with your financial situation.

Christmas cash. Wad of American currency tied with red ribbon

Brainstorm gifts that exclude ‘stuff’.

This can be a real challenge. Make a list of everyone you’d like to get a gift for this holiday season, and brainstorm potential gift ideas for them—but don’t put ‘stuff’ on the list. That means no video games, no iPhones, no sweaters.

This will encourage you to get a little more creative with your gifting, forcing you to focus on handmade items and experience gifts. Even if you eventually decide to get a loved one that sweater they’ve been eyeing, odds are you’ll come up with a lot of unique, affordable gifts for other people on your list.

This is a great way to ensure you stay within the confines of your budget. Gifts aren’t about how much money you spend, anyway. They’re about showing you care.

Actively track your spending.

Use free online tools, like Mint, to stay tuned in to how much you’re actually spending throughout December. Especially with credit cards, it’s easy to lose track of how much cash is actually disappearing from your account.

Check in with your finances once a week so, no surprises arrive with your credit card bill in the new year.

Avoid impulse purchases.

‘Tis the season, right? Not so fast. Just because you’re feeling jolly doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind and buy that $1500 drone your loved one has been eyeing. Try to stay grounded and be realistic. You can only afford what you can afford, no matter how good your intentions.

Christmas Savings

Plan long-term.

The holidays come around every year, so they shouldn’t be a surprise. But all too often we peer into our empty wallets mid-December with shock in our eyes, as if a consumerism tornado just hit.

It’s too late this year, but creating a year-round savings for gift-giving can take a lot of the financial pressure off around the holidays. Estimate how much you tend to spend during the holiday season on gifts, decorations and other celebratory items, and divide that by 12. That’s how much you should be putting away monthly.

For most of us, this should easily be under $100 a month. With a little more financial consciousness, that should be easy to set aside without much sacrifice throughout the year.

Ask for support.

If you feel hopeless with finances, ask someone you trust and respect to give you some advice on how to clean up your situation—maybe even a professional. Unfortunately, it may mean the holidays will be a bit leaner this year, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be fun. Money isn’t the essence of the holiday season. Love, gratitude, and joy is.

On that note…

Keep a gratitude journal.

Remember what you are grateful for each and every day. Maybe you have a loving family, a warm and festive house or the best canine pal anyone could ask for. Write it down in a special place and read through your journal whenever you’re getting stressed. It will help put your financial woes into perspective.

How do you keep your financial anxieties under control around the holidays? Share your tips with the Care2 community in the comments sections below. 

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Images via Getty


Val P
Val P7 months ago


Jan K
Jacob S7 months ago


Chad Anderson
Chad A7 months ago

Thank you.

Latoya Brookins
Latoya Brookins7 months ago

I definitely impulse buy.

Sonia M

Good advices,thanks for sharing

Christine Stewart
Christine Stewart7 months ago


Richard E Cooley
Richard E Cooley7 months ago

Thank you.

Ruth S
Ruth S7 months ago


Ruth S
Ruth S7 months ago

The best gifts are actions that show the person was thinking of you and cares. Take elderly for a drive; to a park, or to church; offer free babysitting; help someone that has major health issues or just had surgery; bake goodies as gifts.

Leo C
Leo Custer7 months ago

Thank you for sharing!