You know – The holidays will be here before we know it.
Yes. I’m talking about NEXT December. In 11 months, we’ll all be scrambling in holiday mode.
I’m a bit ahead of myself, but as Ryan and I were reflecting on our holidays (and our annual spending), it naturally made me look ahead to 2015.
No hangover here.
The good news is that we really stuck to our guns (for the most part) when it came to what mattered over the holidays.
- Less stuff.
- More memories.
So the holiday hangover is nowhere to be found at the Woodwards.
But here are a few things I’m taking away to make next year even better.
Quality, not quantity.
I was adamant about doing things together. FUN. THINGS. TOGETHER. Every day.
Can I tell you what Henry loved the most?
- It wasn’t the shows or the events or the places or the trips.
- It was baking cookies. Watching movies together. Playing games.
In other words, he really didn’t care how much I spent or planning that went into it. But when I got that mixer out, he was on me like white on rice. That boy loves to bake.
Next year, I’ll focus on quality time together, instead of trying to fit everything in. And I’ll spend less time planning trips and events out of the house. Because we all had lots more fun hanging out at home doing Christmas-y stuff together.
Sticking to a budget feels GOOD.
We tried so hard to limit the stuff and gifts, and in some ways we did really well.
- Ryan and I didn’t go all out for each other. We really didn’t need anything, so he made me shelves for my gifts and I picked him up a desk calendar with Henry photos. We were both happy as can be.
- We stayed on budget (and under) on the gifts for family members and friends. Although seriously, I think we could very easily drop the budget more in 2015. It was more fun to get together than give gifts.
- I chose to send postcards for Christmas cards this year, which saved a lot in postage. I don’t think I’ll ever willingly give up the Christmas cards, but it can easily get expensive.
Less is more.
One area that Ryan and I both wish we would have focused on more – gifts for Henry. We set a budget and stuck to it. But because I was doing tons of budget and sale shopping, we just ended up with way too much stuff.
That’s sort of like telling you in a job interview that my weakness is that I’m SUCH A PERFECTIONIST.
It’s a pseudo-strength disguised as a weakness.
Anyhow … Henry didn’t care about the gobs of gifts on Christmas morning. He loved to open them, but he ended up with an insane amount of stuff. Too much stuff. (And you know how I feel about stuff.)
And the truth? He only plays with a few of his favorites. I wish I would have only got him a few things instead of falling into the trap of MORE MORE MORE.
Next year – we want to spend more time choosing the gifts Henry would love most. But we want to limit it to a few gifts that we believe he’ll love the most.
Budgeting goes beyond the holidays.
I feel pretty strongly about the importance of budgeting. We spent a lot of time around the first of the year going back over all our spending for the year and talking about what could be better.
Things can always be better.
For us, we are focusing on being mindful about spending. (This is really hand-in-hand with my “be present” goal for 2015.) It’s about being aware of why we are spending and determining whether it’s really necessary. This takes the emotion out of spending – which is a big issue with me when it comes to buying things.
An example – we have a tendency to (unwittingly) give ourselves carte blanche with Henry.
- Fun event that Henry may like? Let’s go. (Who cares what it costs?)
- New cute clothes for Henry? Buy them. (Who cares if he’ll only fit in them for a week?)
- A new toy that Henry doesn’t have? He needs it. (Who cares if he already has 2,000 trains?)
The truth is, as Henry gets older, he gets a lot more fun (in my opinion). We tend to buy him more things because his reaction is priceless.
Scratch that. His reaction has a price. And it’s all in the stuff.
And we’re realizing that spending time together gets the best reaction of all. He really doesn’t care about the stuff. He cares about us.
More financial help for the new year.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.