If you are or ever have been plagued with consumer debt, I can nearly guarantee that revolving expenses related to Christmas have contributed greatly to that miserable situation.
The problem? Procrastination. Face it, when it comes to Christmas, the longer you wait, the more you’ll spend.
Everyone procrastinates in some area. Why do we do it?
We feel overwhelmed. The holiday expectations we place on ourselves, plus those that come from our families, the community, and even the church, can be so great that we feel paralyzed.
We overestimate how much time we need. The task appears to be so overwhelming that we assume it will take forever. So rather than doing even a little bit, we do nothing.
We overestimate how much time we have. From where we sit during the year, Christmas seems so far away. We tell ourselves we have plenty of time.
We overestimate our abilities. If we believe we can finish a task in three hours, we put if off until only three hours remain. That leaves no margin, no room for errors.
We have to do it perfectly. Experts tell us that at the root of procrastination is perfectionism. Because we feel we have to do everything perfectly, we do nothing rather than run the risk of failing.
We say we work better under pressure. Waiting until the last minute can provide quite an adrenaline rush. We believe we cannot operate without that creative surge.
The way to deal with procrastination is to identify why you do it. As it relates specifically to the topic of Christmas, ask yourself:
What price have I paid in the past for the delay? Do I really want to pay that price, or even more, again this year?
If you are not willing to go into debt, there are simple things you can do to stop procrastinating.
Get started. Do something to get moving.
Write it down. Reduce your plans to paper. Set reasonable limits both in time and in money.
Work with the time you have. Make a simple time line, then break the project down into small, manageable parts.
Set a series of small deadlines. As an example, give yourself a date one week from today to have your gift list written.
Find the simpler way. To minimize the powerful emotions of the season, determine ways you can reasonably scale back and simplify.
Plan now. While you are not involved emotionally is the time you can think the most rationally. That makes this the best time to get a grip on this year’s holiday spending.
Be realistic. A big part of the problem is that the December holidays aren’t just about gifts. Think about alternative ways to make the holidays happy.
Any time of the year is the best time of the year to start thinking about the most wonderful time of the year. And a stress-free Christmas is likely the very best gift you can give yourself and your family.
Excerpted from Debt-Proof Your Christmas: Celebrating the Holidays Without Breaking the Bank by Mary Hunt (Revell, 2012; $12.99)
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