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The shopping season is upon us!
You know, the time when you can find all the best deals to treat yourself and your loved ones.
Save money, get more stuff, and be happier.
That’s what all the marketing is telling us, right?
We’re often made to feel like our kids won’t have that magical special time unless there’s a big pile of presents under the Christmas tree.
Everywhere around us, in all advertising, we’re constantly told, ‘You want a magical Christmas? Then you need to buy this product.’
So how can you have that magical time without the stress and debt piling up?
That’s what we’re going to look at in this article: how to have a stress-free and debt-free Christmas.
And by the way, this article is written by somebody who loves Christmas! I love the holiday season, and I’m not going to say that you don’t need to do any shopping this holiday season.
I absolutely think this is a time to enjoy each other, but I think there is a way to do this without the stress and without the debt.
Feel free to watch the video or keep reading below:
Let’s start by rewinding a bit though.
Debt and Stress at Christmas
I did some research before writing this article, and I think my findings will surprise you.
One survey said that in 2022 in the UK, 2/3 of households went into credit card debt in order to have that ‘magical Christmas’.
I also polled my Instagram audience of over 7,000 people, and most people said they have not set a budget for Christmas this year.
A lot of people also said that they do receive or have received in the past a lot of unwanted gifts.
In the same breath, they also said that they would actually feel really guilty if they were to get rid of those unwanted gifts.
And when it came to buying Christmas gifts, a majority of people said they actually find the process stressful rather than a joyful experience.
For a lot of people, Christmas has become a season that’s quite stressful instead of being that joyful and magical time that a lot of us expect or want it to be.
Now let’s look at the other side of things, our households.
Houses filled with clutter
There was a poll in the UK that said there are almost 1.5 million rooms in the UK filled to the brim with clutter. From that poll of 2,000 homeowners, 10% of the participants had a room they don’t use because it’s too full of stuff.
That means that a rent or mortgage is being paid for a room that can’t even be used because it’s full of too much clutter.
On top of that, all that clutter also causes us a lot of stress.
In that same poll, 32% of people who try to declutter their homes say they don’t know where to start when it comes to getting rid of items they no longer need.
And 46% of people hold on to broken or unusable items such as cables, old mobile phones, electricals, game consoles, gadgets, and kitchen appliances. (source)
There was another survey in the USA which said that 91% of people feel overwhelmed at least some of the time by the clutter in their house.
- 88% of the participants said they wanted less clutter.
- Nearly 50% of them said they will not invite their friends over to see their house.
- A third of them said they have no idea how to reduce the clutter.
The study also said that moms with small children (like myself) have a particularly hard time with the clutter in their homes, and I definitely felt that.
I do think that I went into motherhood thinking that having a lot of ‘stuff’ comes with the territory when you have kids.
You need to have a lot of toys, a lot of clothes, a lot of gadgets or things for them around the house.
The truth is, you don’t really need that much stuff for them.
Another study shows that, on average, a home in the USA has around 300,000 items in it.
Of those 300,000, only about 20% are being actually used on a regular basis. That leaves 80% of those items that are never truly used.
The reality is that we rarely use the stuff we keep ‘just in case,’ the stuff we don’t really need.
Think about how much more space and air you would have in your home if you got rid of 80% of the items! Imagine all the things you don’t really actually need being out of your home.
How can I Make Christmas Stress-Free?
Back to this ‘shopping season’ that is upon us, making us feel like we need to constantly look for ‘the best deals’.
But what ends up happening is that we most likely buy more than we need to or that we plan to.
And even with all of those discounts during sales, we’re not really saving that much money.
Hint: you’re not saving anything unless it’s an item that you were planning on purchasing anyway.
If it’s something that just popped up and it’s an impulse buy, you’re not really saving anything, even if it’s 40% off. It wasn’t something you needed to begin with.
Buying ‘the best deal’ that wasn’t actually needed means we’re just stuffing our homes with things that we bought on impulse.
Stuff that we didn’t really need.
Which means we’re not going to use it that much.
And then we start feeling guilty about it because we spent all of this money on it, but we’re not making use out of it.
The whole thing becomes a negative experience.
Plus, we end up with homes filled with useless clutter bought with our hard-earned money.
Or even worse, we spent money that we didn’t even have (ie when we use credit cards)
And we hope this will make us happy because that’s the message we get from all the marketing around us.
But this whole process ends up making us feel miserable, because we end up with cluttered homes and unwanted gifts that we feel guilty letting go of.
This whole experience is not serving us at all in the long term.
I used to be somebody who would buy a lot of holiday decor, a lot of gifts, a lot of stocking stuffers and fillers, and everything like that.
I started on this decluttering and minimalism journey with the intention of feeling better about my household and making it more manageable.
But it has changed my whole mindset on everything, from gift-giving to buying things for my kids, and everything in between.
For example, one thing I was tempted to buy this year was a new Christmas tree.
I kept seeing many adverts on Instagram for various different Christmas trees. They looked beautiful with pre-lit branches.
Yet here’s the thing:
- Is there anything wrong with our Christmas tree? No.
- Do I really need a new Christmas tree? No.
But I was definitely tempted to buy one.
And I’m not saying I’m not going to buy one in the future. Maybe I will.
I just don’t feel like I really need to right now.
So take my story as just a reminder that if it’s not in your budget this year or if you don’t truly need it, don’t feel like you have to overspend.
Let’s not go into debt just to buy that thing that promises to bring you that magical Christmas.
You don’t really need any sort of physical thing to make holidays special.
Most of the time, it’s just your presence that counts, and it’s the experiences that you have with the people you love that are going to make it a magical Christmas.
Ok, then what can we do instead of going down this hole of spending and gathering clutter in homes?
Well, for one, we can try to make more mindful choices about the things that we buy.
And this can start with the holiday season.
One thing I have started to do is to make a list of things that I would like to buy—things that maybe I see an ad for and I’m interested in.
I will put it on my list (a Notes app on my phone), but I won’t buy it right away.
I’m going to give myself a cooling-off period.
What I have found is that, for a lot of the items, if I wait a week or two, I might realize I actually don’t need it or I don’t really feel like it’s going to help me.
It was just an impulse thought while I was seeing the advert that made me feel like I needed it (that’s what adverts are supposed to do, right?).
So giving yourself a bit of time can be super helpful with this. It makes you realise that in reality, you might not be missing out on a ‘great deal’.
It gives you time and space to consider that maybe what you actually need is less stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t shop for the holidays.
I’m simply saying: let’s shop a bit more intentionally.
I have also created an Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide for you.
The idea came to me as I was trying to think of ideas of thoughtful gifts I could give to people that I love, without cluttering their homes. I put all the 32 ideas in a list here, if you are looking for some inspiration.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with a simple Christmas.
Simple decor, a few thoughtful gifts, a nice table of comfort food, and your presence – I think these will make the most magical Christmas.
I hope these tips on a stress-free and debt-free Christmas were helpful!