““Tis the season to be…..” For many, the concluding line isn’t “to be jolly” but rather any number of other adjectives will be used to define this time of year. With the frenzy that comes with Black Friday and the subsequent Blues that come with season, many are left feeling battered and quite frankly, black and blue.

How can you not only survive, but thrive, during the season?

1. To help stay in the ‘black” financially, make a budget for holiday spending and stick to it. Don’t get caught up in the bombardment of sale items, promotions, and discounts that are offered at brick-and-mortar and online stores.

2. Spread out the spending. Rather than making all of your purchases in the time period between Black Friday and Christmas Eve (and incurring a boatload of debt in the process), look for sales throughout the year. Plan ahead by purchasing off-season items at deep discounts. This will also help to keep the spirit alive throughout the entire year rather than the time period dictated by the calendar.

3. Get creative. Not every gift needs to be store-bought. Often, the homemade ones are longed for and well-received. Not only does crafting, baking, cooking, painting, etc. provide less expensive yet thoughtful gifts, the process can lift our mood and provide a counterbalance to the mayhem that can leave us feeling unmoored.

4. Limit your gift list to “essentials.” Do you really need to give a gift to your neighbor’s uncle? That’s an exaggeration, yet the underlying principle rings true. Try not to get caught up in the cycle of superfluous gift-giving. AND let go of the guilt that comes with breaking the cycle.

5. Remember the reason for the season. That phrase is more than a cliche bumper sticker. Too often we get caught in the frenzy of needing the latest electronics, the most toys, the best gift that we become consumed by the commercialization of it all. Yes, gifts are given and received as part of the holiday season, but the spirit behind the holidays is about family, community, and traditions.

6. Give—of your time, to charities, to your community. The season can be marred by selfishness and frustration but by maintaining a generous spirit, you’ll be more apt to feel anchored while also allowing for personal reflection.

Many of the above mentioned suggestions provide a two-fold purpose. They limit the debt incurred this time of year while subsequently lifting our spirits. So rather than feeling a bit black and blue this season, embrace all the colors that shine around us.
Note: This month’s blog is intended to address the feelings of buyers’ remorse and financial melancholy that accompanies it. Clinical depression is much deeper and cannot be brushed off by baking cookies or singing carols. If you suffer from depression, please seek professional help.