3 Ways to Spend Less and Avoid Holiday Stress

Image shows various advertisements reading, "One day only: 50% off! One day sale! Limited time only! Treat yourself!

The promotional attacks this time of year are exhausting, tempting, and everywhere.

They infiltrates our inboxes.  Weeding out unwanted email marketing messages takes on a whole new level of “annoying” around the holidays.  We delete a handful of advertisements, only to find another handful (and then some) clogging up our new messages in no time flat. 

They make their way into our homes.  Manning the mail becomes a daily must: the influx of “snail mail” over-stuffing our mailboxes and filling our bins at exponential speeds. 

They intrude into our online space.  Browsing online or scrolling through social media becomes a threat to our wallets as advertisements create an itch for items we didn’t know we even wanted.

They distract us from our daily obligations.  Scoring the latest deals monopolizes our time, taking precedent over the other (most likely, more important) tasks on our plates.

We can’t even avoid temptation during our normal errand runs. The seasonal-item-garnished checkout lanes preying on nostalgia and promoting “limited edition” scarcity, persuading us to nab that “last minute” purchase, against our better judgment.

(Don’t even get me started on Trader Joe’s and Target – their ability to persuade us into last minute, unneeded purchases is pure marketing genius!).  

Marketing Ignorance Leads to More Spending, Not Bliss

We’ve come to expect this up-tick in holiday marketing.  This uninvited, and often unwelcome, intrusions into our personal worlds. 

Because there’s no escaping the holiday advertising madness, we often simply huff our annoyance, shrug it off as a nuisance, and don’t give it much of a second thought.  

However, what I’ve come to realize (at least for myself) is this: the hype created by marketing is not, in fact, harmless.  

Whether we’re conscious of it or not, the incessant “you’ve gotta have this” and “don’t miss out on this deal” messages sneak-attack our priorities, disrupt our focus, and plant seeds of ingratitude.    

Unless we’re well-prepared to defend against their attacks, we may just find ourselves victim to the ever-so-contagious holiday craze that has us hustling for deals and chasing after more.  

But what can we do to avoid falling into this trap? How can we avoid over-spending and the deal-chasing stress over the holidays?

Well, unfortunately, what we can’t do is avoid the madness completely: it will inevitably find us. 

However, what we can do is arm ourselves against the various marketing tricks and tactics that come our way.  

3 Strategies to Spend Less and Avoid Stress During the Holidays

Picture shows a piggy bank and reads, "Spend less to avoid holiday stress."

I strongly encourage you to avoid walking into this holiday season without some line of defense against your wallet (and your time). 

Otherwise, you may just find yourself victim to the holiday spending craze: spending mindlessly and stressing needlessly.

Three strategies I’ve found helpful to help defend against the “I’ve gotta have it” mentality and reign in my spending include:

  1. Assess What You Already Own
  2. Think Before You Swipe
  3. Avoid the Bait

Check them out below and consider trying them on for size. Your bank account, and your internal world, just may thank you for doing so.

Strategy #1: Assess What you Already Own

Image reads "What's already in my closet?" and shows a line of clothing.

“Less is more.” 

This is a mindset I’ve been trying to implement in this season of life. In my experience, it’s incredibly freeing to weed out “excess” and adopt a more minimalistic lifestyle.

But let me tell you…just because I know living with less feels great and is for my own benefit, doesn’t mean it’s always easy-breezy.

For a girl who loves to shop, it can be extremely difficult to ignore the itch to nab that “new” latest gadget, garment, or goodie.  Particularly during the holiday season when temptation is all around us.

When I’m snagged by the “have-nots” and find myself yearning after potential purchases, one thing I like to do is to pause and assess what I already own.

I consider: what’s currently in my closets?  

  • I take a quick sweep through my belongings.  
  • I weed out things I no longer use.  
  • I pull out things to donate: things I may even still like, but feel could better serve others.

As I do this “clean sweep” through my possessions, I consider the new items that have recently peaked my interest.  Typically, after assessing what I already have, something shifts within me, offering a new perspective as it relates to the items I’m pining over. 

I remember how good it feels to have less stuff. 

Which causes me to question, “Do I really want to add these new things to my life?”

Sifting through what I already own also makes me realize: more stuff won’t ultimately make me happier.  

In fact, more stuff may even cause distress down the road if I’m not mindful about what I let into my home. 

If I’m not careful, one thing can become two, can become three. 

And before I know it, I can find myself in an “I-need-more” purchasing pattern that leaves me feeling pretty “meh” when all is said and done.

Friend, it’s not that you need to feel guilty about new purchases or adding new things to your home. 

In fact, it can be an act of self-care to treat ourselves every now and again.  

However, I’ve found buying without mindfulness typically leads me to purchasing things I don’t really need. No bueno.

Spare yourself the unnecessary guilt and stress, Friend. Avoid going down that spending-spree-spiral.

Before you go ahead and make any new purchases this year, stop to ask yourself some questions, such as: 

  • Do I really need this? 
  • Will this item bring me long-term use?  
  • How will I ultimately feel if I add this possession to my home?

After slowing down to assess what I have and consider potential purchases in this way, I personally find a number of “I wants” make their way off of my list. Perhaps you will, too.

So, Friend.  Take some time to assess what you already have. 

Review your “I want” list.  Realign yourself with the value of simplicity.

And before you begin purchasing more items this holiday season, take the time to consider: “Do I really want/need these things?”  

I expect you may just see some of those “must-have” items fall off of that “want” list of yours.

Strategy #2: Think Before You Swipe

Image shows a girl shopping and a store clerk swiping her credit card.  It reads, "Think before you swipe!"

The joy you experience when you pull on that never-been-worn piece of clothing.  That hit of excitement you feel when you pull that sparkly new gadget out of its packaging for the very first time.  

Mmmmmm, that glorious newness. It’s deliciously wonderful.  Isn’t it? 

It feels amazing, and we wish it could last for ever.  But we all know: it doesn’t.

The charm of “new” is fleeting and it always, always, always wears off in time. 

We know this to be true. 

Yet still…

It can be easy to forget this reality as new, sparkly things dazzle up the storefront window displays and mesmerize us on our devices.  The charm of “new” lulls us into “retail amnesia,” creating a desire for things we didn’t even know we wanted.

To avoid being baited into mindless purchases during the holidays, it is helpful to keep this fact at the front our minds:

“New” things become “old” sooner or later.   

Before making any new purchases this year, I encourage you to stop and ask yourself:

  • Will I still like this item once it’s worn in and the charm of “new” has expired?  
  • Will this item(s) bring me joy long-term? 
  • Will I still love this item(s) a few months, one year, or even years from now? 
  • Will this be an item that will become an “oldie, but goodie” staple?  An item that I gravitate toward and use often? 

The times I’ve considered whether my desired purchases will meet the above criteria, what have I found?

Welp, as you may have guessed: some things most certainly came off my list.

Friend, I encourage you to take a look at your “I want” list. 

Are there certain things you may not want once the “charm” has worn off?  

And as you hit up the sales this this holiday season…before you mindlessly swipe…remember to reconsider your purchases.

Take the time to ask yourself whether that item(s) will bring lasting joy, despite being weathered by time.

Strategy #3: Avoid the Bait

Picture shows an advertisement that reads, "Special deal, limited time offer!"  Image reads, "avoid the bait!"

I’m the kind of girl who loves a great deal.  There’s something that comes alive within me when I stumble upon a “steal of a deal.” 

“Once a year” holiday promotions leave me particularly susceptible to being hooked into the “I can’t miss out on this deal” mindset. If I’m not extremely careful, I can find myself caught in the trap of scoping out Black Friday deals and scouting out my favorite retail sites for those rare price reductions.

My intention going into a holiday sale is to “take full advantage” of the deep discounts and savings that often come around once a year. 

I go into it thinking, “I’m going to save so much money!”

However, ironically instead of saving money, I end up spending loads more.

More times than not, holiday sales shopping leads me directly into these traps:

  • I buy more than I am planning on purchasing. I convince myself I “have to have” certain items, simply because they are “such a great deal” and I think I’ll never see this great of a deal ever again.
  • It “wets my retail purchasing pallet,” which makes it much easier to justify subsequent purchases.  As the Pringles saying goes, “Once you pop, the fun don’t stop!”
  • It opens up my awareness to even more things I want. Many times, I stumble upon things I didn’t even know are out there, but desperately desire once I do.
  • It leaves me feeling pretty “icky.” Excessive purchases and spending a lot of money doesn’t usually sit well with me. Which often leads to attempting to resolve my guilt by returning such items. Which then means: additional errands and unnecessary stress.

Sure, Black Friday deals and holiday shopping can save us some money on items we are already planing on purchasing.

However, if you’re anything like me, scouting the deals may also open up the door to purchasing additional things you never intended to buy. After all, those discounted prices are difficult to pass up!

Friend, do yourself a favor.  AVOID THE BAIT!

While I don’t typically encourage ignorance, in this instance, I say lean into that unawareness, baby!  

  • Delete those marketing messages from your inbox.  Trash them, don’t even look at them!
  • Avoid stores that are known to tempt you.  You can’t want what you don’t know about!  Want to take advantage of those sales at favorite store? Ask others to focus their gift-shopping efforts for you at those stores.
  • Find non-retail things to partake in during the retail-sales-heavy times of the year.  Choose to experience the holidays, rather than shop away the holidays.
  • Challenge that scarcity “FOMO” thinking.  Remember: sales always come and go.  There will always be another sale.  

When it comes to retail shopping: ignorance is indeed often bliss. 

Less exposure to the latest fashions, newest contraptions, or hottest deals protects you from spending frivolously.

You don’t want what you don’t know about. And you can’t “miss out” on something you choose not to participate in.

My advice?  Know your weaknesses and avoid the bait!

In Sum: Arm Yourself to Spend Less and Avoid Holiday Stress

Image shows knights geared in armor and reads, "Protect yourself!"

It’s impossible to avoid the marketing craze that hits each holiday season. 

The marketing gurus will be doing their very best to snag us into making unwanted purchases.  However, this doesn’t mean we need to succumb to the temptation to swipe mindlessly and spend carelessly. 

  • Assess what you already have.  Review your list of “wants” and consider whether it really serves you to add those things to your home.  
  • Think before you swipe.  Remember: “new” things always become “old” in time.  Before you purchase an item, ask yourself, “Will this be something I love once the charm wears off?”
  • And do your best to avoid the bait.  The messages are cunning and the sales are tempting.  Spare yourself the temptation: delete those messages, avoid those stores that tempt you into purchasing, and find other things to do this holiday season that don’t involve retail shopping.  

And when you are confronted with the next marketing advertisement that will inevitably make its way to you?

Don’t be swooned by scarcity marketing. Remind yourself there will always be another sale.  And caving into those tantalizing wants won’t necessarily buy you more joy or happiness.

But, honoring simplicity and limiting our spending? Now that usually awards us less stress and more peace!  

Best of luck avoiding the holiday spending craze this year, my Friend! 

Stay strong!  And Happy Holidays!

Picture reads: "More you may want to check out..."

If retail therapy is a known vice of yours, I suggest you check out my previous post: Retail Therapy: An Unhelpful Way to Manage Emotions.  

Another read you may wish to check out (note: this one’s longer, but jam-packed with tips to help you avoid stress during the holidays): Fight Holiday Hurry and Stress: Reclaim Peace

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