Are you rolling your eyes and thinking “There is no such thing as a cheap way to celebrate the holidays. Also: It’s still decorative gourd season. DON’T TELL ME HOW TO CELEBRATE!” Yes. I hear you! I personally refuse to decorate for Christmas or Hanukkah till we’ve finished all the Thanksgiving leftovers. Thou shalt not trim the tree till the stuffing is gone! But I’m sharing these fun, affordable ways to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Thanksgiving because I want you to have time to plan a holiday season that isn’t filled with overdraft fees and regrettable purchases.
Americans spend $465 billion on Christmas. Meanwhile, the average American has $6,385 in credit card debt and 40% of middle class Americans couldn’t weather a $400 financial emergency. And even if you’re totally debt free, most of us would prefer to spend less money rather than more, right? Luckily, dialing back holiday spending doesn’t have to feel Grinchy. In fact, it can feel intentional and creative. Truly!
16 fun, cheap ways to celebrate the holidays (that don’t feel chintzy)
What are your Instagram ideas? “My house should look like that and since it doesn’t I am clearly a loser.” “How in the name of all that is good and holy can they afford that? And why can’t I?” “I don’t look like that in a swimsuit. I AM NEVER WEARING A SWIMSUIT AGAIN.” I’m sure you’ve seen a million studies that say social media negatively affects our self-esteem. Instagram is charged with this more often than Twitter or Facebook – and I get it! It’s not hard to filter and crop our way to a perfect-looking life. It’s easy to forget that social media is a highlight reel. There are certainly arguments for using our phones and social media less. But I’d like to make the controversial argument that – when used with intention – Instagram in particular can actually make us happier.
6 Instagram Ideas That Will Make Your Life Happier + Better
Birthday ideas for adults are often …. lacking, aren’t they?
It seems like our options are often limited to:
Corralling friends into a dinner out (but trying to do it on your Actual Birthday is nearly impossible plus budgets and traffic and dietary restrictions?)
Traveling (Which is awesome! But not always financially or logistically feasible)
Scrolling through all the Facebook birthday notifications and eating cake in the break room at work (When you’re really more of a pie person, anyhow.)
Today is my 39th birthday. We spent the last five days celebrating my birthday/our anniversary with a trip to Massachusetts and Vermont, but my thirst for celebration has yet to be quenched! I’m still going! If you’re looking for ways to celebrate your birthday, keeping reading.
13 Birthday Ideas For Adults That Are More Fun Than Going Out To Dinner
This title seems like clickbait, doesn’t it? And it seems like this would be the part where I say something about a pyramid scheme or transferring credit card balances, right? The truth is both more (and less) exciting than that.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before. It’s practically a pillar of the personal finance advice industry: Stop buying $5 lattes. “The average latte costs five dollars. If you buy one every work day, that’s $25 a week, $100 month. That’s $1,200 a year! You could be putting that towards credit card debt or a house down payment or a vacation!” Now, this is true. These numbers add up. Five multiplied by five does, indeed, equal twenty-five. And if you really do buy a $5 latte every workday, 52 weeks a year, those purchases will add up.
But not all lattes are created equal.
I learned this from one of student in my Put Your Money Where Your Happy Is course. Natalie had one of those daily latte habits that every personal finance expert rails against. Every day on her way to work, Natalie would buy a latte at Starbucks. She’d sit in her car in the drive through, checking email on her phone while she waited her turn to shout her order into the speaker. She’d pick her coffee up at the window and then drive to her job at an office park in the suburbs, usually finishing the last sip as she pulled into her parking space.
The purchase of her daily latte was a habit. It was almost-mindless and not even particularly happy-making. It was just something she did every day, like brushing her teeth or checking Instagram while she stood in line. But. Once a month, Natalie would drive into the city, heading towards her favorite neighborhood: parks, boutiques, bookstores that invite lingering. Natalie would, again, buy a latte. But this time she’d sip it on a bench in the park, people watching and warming her hands. She’d finish it as she windowshopped and stooped to smell the flowers in the planter outside the antique store. These lattes all cost five dollars. The one that made her Saturday feel special cost $5 and the ones she drank mindlessly on her way to work cost $5.
But her weekday, much-less-enjoyable lattes affected her finances a lot more than her Saturday, seems-like-a-scene-in-a-rom-com latte.
Here’s the truth:
It’s not the Sunday morning latte we drink as we walk along the river with our best friend, catching up, and watching the ducks along the shore. It’s the four lattes we buy during the workweek, because it’s 3:30, we’re sick of working, and we need to get out of the office. It’s not the $200 boots that look good with everything, make us feel amazing, and get worn three times a week. It’s 11 pairs of $17 shoes we never wear, bought on sale because we wandered into Target tired, hungry, and grumpy. It’s not the $100 anniversary meal, eaten on a gorgeous patio, under bobbing lanterns. It’s the three-times-a-week $12 takeout we don’t even really like but it’s easier than figuring out what to make for dinner.
That’s a great thing to hear on a Monday morning, right? When you’re 10 minutes into an hour-long walk with a friend?
I put on my Polite Midwestern I Won’t Be Offended Face and prepare for my friend to say something vaguely offensive.
“I really didn’t think it would work. I’ve read tons of books on this stuff. I’ve downloaded, like, five different apps. But this worked when nothing else did.”
My friend is talking about my courseBank Boost (shameless plug! It opened for enrollment yesterday!)
I’m flattered and blushy and I tell her so. I totally believe in the stuff we talk about inBank Boost. It is full of great, insightful information and we approach money in a fun, doable, way!
There are other differences. The stuff my friend tried that hadn’t worked for her? The books and apps? They were solo endeavors. She had no support, no accountability, nobody to bounce ideas off of.
Maybe if she’d had that, those other things would have worked for her.
And if my friend knew this about herself – that she needs support + accountability to get where she wants to go – she’d be able to use that knowledge in every area of her life.
If she wanted to change careers, eat differently, train for a marathon, buy a home, sell everything and travel the world … she’d make sure she had support and accountability to do those things. She’d stop buying books she doesn’t read, self-paced courses she doesn’t complete, and apps that take up space on her phone. She’d think about what has worked for her in the past and do more of it if she wants to find success in her future. So I guess the good news is: If something has worked for you in the past, it’ll probably work again for you in the future! And the bad news is: If something didn’t work for you in the past, it probably won’t magically start working now.
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