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How You Feel and Think About Money During the Holidays

Holiday shoppers did not line up at brick-and-mortar stores as they did in years past.

While in the midst of a deadly coronavirus pandemic, soaring unemployment, massive food insecurities and unprecedented store closures, Black Friday turned in $9 billion in sales, the second-largest day for online spending in US history.

Topping it off, the biggest online sales event in U.S. history, Cyber Monday, turned in $12.7 billion dollars in online sales, roughly $13 million a minute, showing a 15%-to-35% growth increase over last year.

While it seems slightly inconsistent, regardless of where you shopped, if you overspent it probably had more to do with self-control, well-being, and a lack of defense to being “swept up” in the spirit of giving. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are human like the rest of us.

One Eight-Letter Word Makes a Difference

You’ve read in various articles on this website about the way you manage money and how it is more about being strongly associated with your emotions and attitudes and less about your financial knowledge. That’s all true. Only this time it is more about pent-up demand … to go out and spend some money!

“With everyone sitting at home, not going to concerts, to the movies or out to dinner over these many months, no one was spending any money,” says Erin L. Weber, CFP®, CPFC® of The Weber Group at Hefren-Tillotson. “However, people are returning to work and also realizing they have the money for Christmas.”

Experts say no matter what, we must have optimism – that eight-letter word that gives us strength, and signifies confidence in the face of adversity. And we’ve had plenty lately.

“As if seasonal depression isn’t depressing enough, we have a pandemic on top of it. Shopping is peoples’ way of bringing happiness back to their lives – by spending money on their loved ones because they haven’t been spending time with their loved ones.”

Financial advisors, financial coaches and financial therapists alike will say optimism can lead to financial success. Considered a discipline of envisioning and pursuing the many possibilities, whether during the holidays or preparing for retirement, optimism can be a catalyst for putting a strategy in place to moderate your spending or your saving.

A Touch of Discipline and Perseverance Helps

Certainly, with so much negativity all around us for so many months, we had to wonder if we could possibly focus on positive outcomes while having a clear understanding of the facts of our current reality.

“That’s disciplined optimism,” says Lindley Craig, at All in the Mind. It might be easy to say but harder to do. Obviously, you must work at it; it doesn’t just happen. Like everything else worth doing, it takes time and patience to develop healthy attitudes, accountability and sensible boundaries toward money.

After all, there are savers and there are spenders. Many times, it is one parent (Mom) or spouse (wife) who deserves the recognition for being the real “big picture” thinker.

People with positive money attitudes generally spend less than they earn. They save for the future and manage their credit. They give to others and plan for unexpected expenses. They literally share their optimism with others. 

These folks are disciplined mainly because they do not run up credit card debt when they know darned well they could. They also know they must stubbornly stick to a budget.

For those of us who feel sticking to a budget is unexciting, think back to January’s credit card statements and how horrible you felt when looking at them.

Keeping it Simple

Most experts say people would be just as happy receiving smaller, well thought-out, inexpensive gifts that took time and thought to personally chose or make.

One client, Sandra, inherited a set of beautiful silverware from the 1800s from her mother. A setting for six, each utensil safely sat in aged purple velvet trays and mahogany box. One summer day, Sandra’s daughter, Alicia, asked her where the silverware set was. Sandra said it was “safely tucked away.”

Later on, the more Sandra thought about that silverware, the more she thought it was time to pass it on to Alicia. The first order of business was to fix a broken hinge on the box, delicately cover up scratches without jeopardizing the aged patina and replace the velvet. She also replaced the engraved silver emblem with Alicia’s initials.

That Christmas she gave it to Alicia. It was as if someone handed her the keys to a new Jaguar with a bag of money in the front seat. Alicia broke down and cried. And so did her mother. As they say: “THAT’S what I’m talking about!”

One final thought on how much you might be spending and perhaps not saving: Unlike other financial advisory firms, your Hefren-Tillotson advisor will never tell you how much you can or cannot spend. He or she will alert you when you are pushing the limits of the spending plan you both agreed to on your path to a successful retirement. Happy Holidays!

DISCLAIMER: Past performance does not predict future results. This report is based on data obtained from sources we believe to be reliable. Hefren-Tillotson does not, nor any other party, guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report or make any warranties regarding results obtained from its usage. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the firms judgment as of the date of this report and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell the securities herein mentioned.

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