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HMM 26: Four Non-Traditional Ways To Surviving The Holidays

HMM 26: Four Non-Traditional Ways To Surviving The Holidays

Can you believe it is already December?

December is that month passes by in a blur.  There are the holiday parties, last minute shopping, school wraps up for winter break.

Plain and simple, the last month is of the year is a busy one.

Our bank accounts or credit cards are super busy this time of the year as well.

Let’s be real, spending can get out of control!

The traditional ways of surviving the holidays, like spending less, aren’t enough (in my opinion) so I want to share with you 4 non-traditional ways that aren’t discussed enough.


What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode:

  • One thing we find ourselves doing often that does not pay the bills and what we can do about it
  • Why getting clear about your values is key to surviving the holidays
  • How knowing your past history will save you money.
  • One way you can be 95% prepared for the next holiday season

Resources From This Episode:

Articles where I got the statistics from:

Article #1

Article #2

To join the Her Money Matters Community  CLICK HERE

So which one of the 4  non-traditional ways will you pick to work on today?  Don’t be shy, be sure to share in the comments below!

Abrazos (**hugs**),



Click on the arrow below to access the transcript:

Read Full Transcript



[00:00:09] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the Her Money Matters Podcast, the podcast to help you take control of your finances. Join your host, motivational money coach, Jen Hemphill as she shares with you practical, simple money insights into real life stories by women like you.

Let's get to it!


[0:00:26] JH: Hello, this is Jen Hemphill. I appreciate you tuning in into yet another episode of the Her Money Matters Podcast. It is the first week of December as this is airing in December. As you know, it’s probably one of the craziest, quickest months to go by just because of the holidays. School wraps up for break, there’s the holiday parties, last minute shopping especially if you’re like me, maybe some last minute trouble plans and so forth. But really, it just goes by in a blur don’t you agree?

So in this holiday season maybe you’ve searched for ways to survive it financially and maybe you’ve come up short. Personally, I feel they say the same thing over and over again. “Plan, budget, buy less,” things like that and it’s nothing that’s really super helpful. To my peers that write those blog posts, it’s just lacking something. Now I know the intention is great but there is something lacking.

So if you are here, it’s probably because you agree with this and I know that we all can spend less and budget better, but even though ideally that sounds like a good plan, it doesn’t necessarily work for us because there’s just something lacking. So instead of sharing with you the traditional ways of surviving the holidays, I’m going to share with you four non-traditional ways that I’ve come up with to help you survive the holidays.

So in this episode, I’m going to share with you the one thing that we find ourselves doing often that does not pay the bills and what we can do about it. I’m also going to share with you why getting clear about your values is the key to surviving the holidays. I’m going to talk about how knowing your past history will save you money and I’m also going to share with you one way you can be 95% prepared for the next holiday season.

But before I do that, I want to give a quick shout out. We’ve got a review in iTunes and I want to share that with you. This iTunes review comes from Robin and the title is Five Stars — my goodness, I hope I can continue to talk the rest of this episode. But she said is, Five Stars to a Wonderful Podcast. And she says:

[0:02:11] R: “Thank you Jen for giving me hope in a dark time. You are an angel.”

[0:02:15] JH: So I want to thank you Robin for that review and the five star review and if you are listening, please by all means reach out to me and let’s talk. I know you mentioned that it has been a dark time for you and I know that you’ve been giving hope but reach out to me anyways. Let’s see how I can help you, and thanks again for that review.

Now, let’s go ahead and dive into today’s episode. My four non-traditional ways to surviving the holidays. Granted, some of these you may not be able to apply this holiday season but sure enough, there’s some of these that you can start doing today even. The first one is, really take a moment to breathe.

I’m going to explain why. No matter what has happened, whether you’ve made impulse purchases, maybe you’ve charged up your credit card, you busted through that budget, just take a moment to breathe. Getting upset, frustrated, stressed out, the last time I checked that did not help pay the bills.

So I’m going to share with you a statistic that I found recently. Did you know that the average American will spend approximately $700 on holiday gifts? That’s $700 and in total in the United States, the amount spent on holiday gifts is over $465 billion. That is definitely a lot of money and this comes from the National Retail Federation.

Those of course are estimates, but to give you an idea. And if you need a guideline, if you need something to guide yourself with, a site that I recommend is called Practical Money Skill. It gives a lot of good information in there. They recommend to not spend more than 1.5% of your annual income on holiday spending. So I wanted to share that statistic with you.

On average, $700 is being spent on holiday gifts, a total of $465 billion is being spent in the US on holiday gifts and the recommendation, just as a guideline, if you don’t follow it to a tee, it’s okay. It’s just to serve you as a guideline, it is recommended that you don’t spend more than 1.5% of your annual income on your holiday spending.

So let’s take a moment to think about where you stand. Do you spend about $700 on holiday gifts? Maybe you spend more or maybe you spend less, right? And as we know, sometimes we impulse spend, sometimes we may overspend on gifts and then what happens on January, it rolls around and we deal with the holiday hangover.

It hits us as if what in the world have we done? We’ve either put ourselves into more debt, maybe depleted some emergency funds or something else? Have you been in this situation? Because I know I have and to make it even better, what we do is we repeat this over and over again every single holiday.

Now, I know I’ve been guilty of waiting to the very last minute to go shopping for holiday gifts. In fact, when I’m recording this, I have not done any holiday shopping whatsoever. That’s just me every year. I know I’m going to wait to the very last minute and I’ve been guilty in the past of not having a plan or really any idea of how much we’re going to spend. I have done that and that really never ends good.

Fortunately, for us we’ve never maxed out those credit cards because we’ve always paid them off right away. So if we use them, we pay them off as it was due but we did have to tap into our emergency savings. So of course, that depleted that savings that we’ve been working hard on and they were supposed to be for emergencies. And gifts are not emergencies, right?

I wanted to talk a little bit about — this all falls into just breathing. As you breathe, you want to just think and just relax because here’s the thing: You’ve probably heard of finances being compared to diet than before and I like fitness and health so I’m going to be doing some comparison, which hopefully you will gain something out of.

So think about the calories coming in versus calories going out. When you’re losing weight, in order to do that, you need to take in less calories and burn more calories, right? It makes good sense. Same with money. The money coming in versus money going out. We need to be able to spend less to be able to save more.

In theory, those two things, as far as with calories and with money, it makes practical sense. So of course, if you intake less calories and you burn more, you’re going to lose weight. It makes sense. If you spend less, you’re going to be able to save more. In all practicality, it makes sense but something funny happens when you add the human to the equation. It gets personal, and very personal.

Not only in the sense of fitness and health due to the amount of calories that we need varies from person to person but if you’re not in taking more calories or enough calories I should say, you’re not going to lose weight, you’ll be grumpy and inevitably what happens is you end up eating what you aren’t “supposed to”, not only once but various times. I’m sure I know I can’t be the only one that has fallen into that trap because I’ve done it. I’m sure it’s happened to you.

And the same thing happens to your money. You’re on track of spending less for a while, then you spend more when you “aren’t supposed to” and it repeats itself again. The right amount that you spend or the calories that you burn versus the money that you earn or the calories that you eat really depends on the situation; your needs, your wants and what you want to achieve. Following those traditional methods even though in theory they work, they aren’t always the full solution.

So my point here it really is that it’s more than spending less than saving more. We have emotions, we have stressors, we have triggers that really affect the decisions that we make. Now I’m not an expert psychologist, I’m not even a psychologist but just in my experience and observations, I’ve seen this time and time again.

There are things that we can do that will help, but it’s really questionable if it really will fully, fully go away. Just like for example, a fitness trainer that they will supposed to give you that good example of eating well and exercising all the time. You can’t expect a fitness trainer to keep that ideal diet all the time, 24/7, 365 days of the year, right? Sometime along the way, something is going to happen and they’re going “eat” what they’re not supposed to.

The same with financial experts. Even Dave Ramsey I’m sure has blown the budget from time to time, right? People like that will overspend sometimes and break the budget from time to time so it happens. So instead of focusing on just the traditional methods of spending less and earning more, you want to make sure that you add yourself to the equation.

And I know that maybe for a moment you think, “How in the world do I do that?” But really it’s really about giving yourself permission to mess up from time to time. It’s about giving yourself permission to figure out what you really, really want instead of focusing on spending less and earning more and getting out of debt and looking at what that really looks like.

It’s all about finding a happy medium and that is so different for everyone and honestly, I wish I had that magic formula for you because I don’t. It’s a journey and everybody’s journey is different and we each go through this journey at different speeds and we have different obstacles to overcome. If I did have the magic formula, I really would love to give it to you and I probably would honestly be more wealthier than Donald Trump if I had it, right?

So that is number one. That is my first and I know I’ve ran it off a little bit, but really you’ve got to take time to breath. You have to know that this is personal, it gets personal, that you’ve got to make sure that you add yourself to the equation and give yourself permission to mess up from time to time. You just got to get yourself back on track.

Number two of the non-traditional way to survive the holidays is to get clear on your values for your holidays. We all have different values so just do a really quick check as to what do the holidays mean for you? Where does the gift giving come into play? How important is gift giving for you?

I ask this just so you can make sure that your values for the holiday season are aligned with how you spend on gifts. I just want you to get thinking on this and maybe if it’s not aligned, it just gives you the opportunity to think through why are you spending more than what your values are showing where you should be spending.

Again, there is no magic trick to this. It’s just a quick check. It’s something that you have to let your intuition speak for you on this. You can do this in your head or even if you want, you can list out the importance of the holidays on a piece of paper for you and just rank them in order of importance and just kind of take a look at that and see what you’re spending and see if it’s in alignment.

Now recently — okay so let me retract. If you’re spending the average amount of $700 during the holidays that we had talked about from that statistics, yet maybe your values are more about quality time with your family over the gifts, that’s one you can take a look and let your intuition speak and say, “Maybe I shouldn’t be spending $700, maybe I could be spending less?”

Or maybe you can figure out why you’re spending the $700 and be happy and be okay and content with spending the $700. Again, there is no clear coat way of doing this other than just listening to your intuition on this one.

Number three is looking at your past history. So you’ve got to know how you spend, how much you spend, find the patterns and again, this is something that you’ve got to do a quick check on why you spent what you spent on. Okay? I worked recently with a client who every year, she knows she’s going to spend over $2,000 on gifts during the holiday season.

We didn’t get a chance to dive into it further, but she was clear as to how much she spent each year. But she was also clear that this was super important for her. In other words, this was non-negotiable. It was just a matter of figuring out how to incorporate that in her money plans so she didn’t continue to max out the credit cards and get into more debt. So that’s the third one.

The fourth one is figuring out your magical number and then treating it like a bill. You should have an idea, if not, take a look at getting an idea of how much you spent for the holidays in the past and find a comfortable number that makes you happy. I know the average is about $700, if you want to guide yourself by 1% or the 1.5% of your annual income or just also see how it fits into your money plan.

Make sure and figure out a comfortable number, just do you search. If you have past receipts on holiday spending, take a look at those. Maybe you have a ball park figure how much you’ve spend every year and if that’s a comfortable number, if you are comfortable with that number, if it makes your skin crawl because you think it’s too much, take a look at that and figure out something. Find a happy medium of what’s a comfortable number for you.

And then from there, you’re going to make that number that you spend on that holiday spending a monthly number. Then from there, you’re going to see if it fits into your monthly plan and maybe you’ll have to tweak your plan of whether the other expenses, other spending that you do or maybe you’ll have to tweak your number if necessarily or earn more income. There are so many different ways of doing this.

So once you find a comfortable number, you figure out the monthly number. So divide that total number by 12, then that monthly number, you’re going see it and how it fits into your plan and if you need to tweak and adjust your plan, by all means do so and then the last thing is you want to treat it like a bill.

So that means that you are going to separate that money every single month just like if you were paying a bill, okay? Just make sure that you treat it like a bill so therefore, the next holiday season if you start this now for the next holiday season and you start saving every single month, then you will be ahead of the game. You will have that money in 12 months. Right? If you want to have it earlier, obviously you’d have to adjust for that but that’s just to give you an idea.

Now there are some bonus points if you take it a step further and you think of the gifts that you give throughout the year. Birthday gifts, maybe if you have kids, you have that wonderful birthday parties that you go to and of course, you give a gift. So you have to think through the gifts throughout the year and for bonus points, you figure out a monthly number for that, add it to your holiday spending and figure out one monthly number for that and again, you’ll see how it fits into your money plan, into your budget.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you know I am all about breaking down things into smaller chunks. If you haven’t heard that before, you will hear this from me again. I like to break things down into monthly numbers and work from there. So breaking it down, making it simple and then seeing how it fits into your monthly plan or your money plan or as some others like to say, your budget.

So that is it for today. Those are my four non-traditional ways for surviving the holiday season so I hope you have found that of value. So let’s go ahead and just recap the four ways, the four non-traditional ways to survive the holidays:

Number one is to just take a moment to breathe, because remember the last time I checked and I’m sure if you do a quick check real quick, getting upset and frustrated and stressed out, it just doesn’t pay the bills. It just doesn’t work that way so just take a moment to breathe and just really get in tune as to what’s going on with the situation.

Number two is to get clear on your values for the holidays and see how those values align with that spending that you’ve been doing. So it should align and do a quick check, go with your intuition and see if your values align with your spending.

Number three is to look at your past history because that’s going to help you save some money. So look at your past history, see how you spend, how much you spend, see kind of the patterns of what you’re spending on and be truthful to yourself as to why you spent what you spent. Okay?

The fourth way is to figure out that magical number and treat it like a bill. We talked about finding a comfortable number, making that number into a monthly number which is your magical number, see how it fits into your monthly plan, your money plan, tweak it if you need to and treat it like a bill. We also talked about, for bonus points, to take it a step further and include all your gifts for the whole year.

So that is it and no matter where you are this holiday season, whether you are purchasing things in advance, maybe you are purchasing things last minute or maybe your holiday spending is more in the entertaining, I challenge you to pick one of the ways that I mentioned to work on today.

Maybe your anxiety and stress is at an all-time high, just taking a moment to breathe may be a good starting point. Just pick one and take some action and let me know in the comments on the show notes which one you’re going to do.

So that is basically it but I’ve been asked recently and not even just recently but in the past, I’ve been asked various times about having a Facebook group, having a community and let me be honest. I was hesitant because I honestly was not ready. I’ve had one before when I’ve done a free challenge in the past and what I didn’t do is I didn’t have a plan post the challenge. So naturally, of course the group fizzled down.

So I’ve created this group where the purpose for this group is to really encourage a conversation around money so it’s not so taboo because I really want that. That’s really going to help you out, it’s going to help everyone out and I’m not here to tell you that in the group to tell all your business but just to talk about what you’re comfortable with and go from there.

Engage in a conversation, share your experiences, cheer each other on, I’ll definitely be posting some themes just to get the conversation started, and of course I’ll be joining in from time to time but I just want it to be run by you, meaning for you to chime in, help each other out and we could make it a great community. So if you are interested, you can go to and you can join the group and chime in on the conversation.

So that is definitely a wrap for today. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to tune into the show. You can check out the show notes, the transcript and more at That is

Thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you again next Thursday.


P.S. THANK YOU for listening!

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2 Responses to HMM 26: Four Non-Traditional Ways To Surviving The Holidays

  1. Mariah December 3, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    GREAT tips on spending 1.5% of your income on holiday gifts. Plugging that into my YNAB app now!

    • Jen Hemphill December 3, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

      So glad you liked it Mariah and yay for taking immediate action!

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