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A money-savvy guide to joyful giving

Minimize stress, maximize happiness this holiday season

What do you think of when you reflect on holidays gone by? Do you have sweet memories of time spent with friends and family, or unpleasant recollections of frantic gift buying, stress and debt? I can’t eliminate the pressure brought on by relatives or economic issues, but I can provide a few tips to help prevent debt remorse for 2024.

REVIEW YOUR LIST OF GIFT RECIPIENTS

If you already haven’t set aside money to buy gifts, is it worth going into debt to purchase gifts for those on your list? Would you want them to go into debt on your behalf? Do they really need or want the item you plan to get them?

My two sons have a tradition that exemplifies what gift giving sometimes becomes. One of them hands the other a $100 bill, which the recipient in turn hands back to his brother as his gift. Nothing is accomplished except the expected exchange. How often do you buy for someone because you think he or she will buy for you? Gift giving has become an obligation instead of a joy.

If upon reviewing your list you find yourself feeling obligated, the people on your list may feel the same. Perhaps their financial situation if even tighter than yours. Be bold, be brave and be real. Call them and have a conversation; explain that you are stepping back from spending on gifts to allow more joy in your holidays. Remove some stress from yourself and from them.

SET A BUDGET AND SPENDING LIMIT

In my immediate family, we draw names for the adults and set a spending limit for the items we plan to purchase. This helps eliminate negative feelings on both sides when one person spends more than the other.

I believe it is essential to teach our children the value of time and money. How often have you purchased an expensive item to see it soon discarded? How many times do children play with the box instead of the toy? Just because something is on their gift list does not mean you have to buy it. Requiring them to earn and save their money to purchase the item they want will help teach them patience, diligence and self-control.

BE CREATIVE AND FOCUS ON GIVING

Something handmade often means more than any store-bought gift ever could. Do you have special cookies or jelly everyone loves? Do you have artistic talents?

As my mother aged, we printed some of the poems she had written and framed them as gifts for the family. Those types of items usually cost much less but have far more value. My sister, Liz, started a wonderful tradition with her children when they were young that taught them the importance of giving. She helped them create handmade gifts and baked items, and before they received any gifts, they gave their gifts to family members. It helps change their focus from receiving to giving. They had so much joy as they saw how excited we were to receive their gifts; it was a special time for them and for us.

A couple years ago my family “adopted” a family from a local school, and instead of buying for each other, we purchased items for this family and had the joy of delivering the items to them. It was a heart-warming experience. We have continued this idea by choosing a child from a group like Angel Tree and instead of spending money on each other, we buy gifts for our “Angel” and give a card to each other with pictures of the gifts we gave in their name. We have found this to be rewarding, knowing we are offering joy to those who may have little of it.

By implementing these things in your life and passing them on to your children, you will help open their eyes to the needs of those around them. This small change can help them become givers, serving others with genuine compassion, while also laying the foundation of financial wisdom. After all, isn’t a giving heart and financial wisdom what we desire for ourselves and those we love?

Written by Kathy Rogers

Kathy Rogers is the vice president of Marston Rogers Group, a life planner and financial consultant. Reach her at (228) 206-5902 or Kathy@mrg.life.

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