I love the holidays. Family, fun, time off … somehow everyone seems to be more cheerful this time of the year, which makes me smile. But it also means more parties, entertaining, decorating and gifts. Adding a new house and a baby (and the sleeplessness that comes along with it) to the mix this year, the stress of the holidays has slightly surpassed the cheer. As a control freak when it comes to money, financial stress is a big part of the equation.
Am I staying on top of the bills or with my mind hazy without sleep did I miss one? Will I end up paying a late fee? Now that I have my own house, how much decorating is good enough? With all the friends and family visiting to spend time with the baby, will I do a good enough job entertaining and be a good host? How much should I spend to make them comfortable? Should I furnish all the guest bedrooms in one go? Do we have enough money to handle all the bills come January? It goes on and on. The more I get worked up, the more my mind just shuts down and the stress level goes through the roof!
I can’t let this happen. I won’t let this happen. I have worried about money before. A lot. But I was living paycheck to paycheck then. I have worked really hard to get out of that situation so all these worries are bothering me even more.
What can I do to let go of the financial stress?
After I broke down and cried for a while, I decided it is time I did something to let go of my stress. I have a beautiful baby to enjoy and this is not the time to worry about something that might not even be an issue. It is hard. I know it is not as simple as it sounds, but I am going to let it go. Here is what I decided to do to eliminate unnecessary stress:
Take a deep breath. I tried to prepare as best as I could ahead of time. We are no longer living paycheck to paycheck. And if the relatives are not happy with whatever I can do, it is not my problem. I tried and that is all I can do.
Do not tackle the mail as it comes. Sort the mail as it comes, set the bills aside and only open the mail that needs immediate attention. The rest can wait until later to be handled.
Slay the temptation to shop the stress away. As someone who has done a lot of emotional shopping in the past, I know this is something I have to continually watch. Shopping will give me a very temporary “high” feeling, but it will certainly add to my stress level as soon as I leave the mall thinking about where in the budget I will find the money to pay for it.
Set aside a certain time of the week to tackle all the financial issues. I do not have to check my credit card or review our budget every single day. I should set aside a couple of hours every week to review all the bills, pay them and review the spending. If I do it as they come, I forget what has been paid already and how much is left over in the account. It adds to the confusion and my stress.
Delegate the tasks to someone else. So far I have always handled all the finances myself. My husband has offered to help but because I enjoy doing it and he doesn’t, I have never taken him up on his offer. Now, I will. I know I will also feel an urge to double-check if everything has been done correctly, and that is something I need to keep in check.
Let go of perfection. I do not have to have the perfect holiday meal cooked for everyone or have a house decorated like it came out of a catalog. There is limited time and I should adjust my expectation to a realistic level.
Question my worries. This is something my husband taught me to do. Whenever I feel down, I should ask “why.” Why do I worry about this? Is there a basis for my worry? What is the worst that could happen if I miss one bill or pay a late fee? Will that break our budget? Will worrying about it do something to better the situation? If not, what is the point in getting stressed?
Do something nice for myself. Meditate. Vent. Spend some alone time. Cook a nice meal. Sleep. Take some time to volunteer. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate by the fire.
There is worrying and there is preparing. I should prepare the best I can, which I believe I have, and let go of the things that are not in my control instead of worrying about it.
This is a wonderful time of the year. I should try to concentrate on the fun part — see my daughter grow every day, spend time with my family, enjoy putting up the decorations together, and savor the great little moments in my life, not the worries inside my brain.