UNITED STATES—Oh, how Christmas, but it can indeed be a stressful one for many Americans. Why? We attempt to do a bit more than what we need to, specifically when it comes to purchasing Christmas gifts. I will be the first to admit that I am indeed one of those individuals. I just love the notion of giving, but what gets me in trouble is that I make a list of the people that I plan to purchase gifts for, but never indicate specifically what I want to buy them.

So I end up like a chicken with my head chopped off at the shopping mall trying to find the perfect gift. That is indeed the problem. I need to be specific in terms of what I want to get people, otherwise, I’m just picking up gifts without a thought, and then I’ve purchased way more items then I planned. This seems to happen to me every single year, and I overspend as a direct result. I have to stop this if this is the last bone in my body. So for 2018, I have made some adjustments to my Christmas list.

For starters, I’m not buying for everyone; I just cannot afford to do it anymore. On top of that, I’ve become frustrated with the notion of giving to those who don’t appreciate it. I mean it because I don’t want anything in return, but two simple words: Thank you! That’s it, that’s all I want to hear, but I sense people expect gifts from me and as a result they assume it’s no big deal to me. I get a bit emotional by it because it stings when people don’t appreciate what you do, then again, it could be my ego working against me.

I thought about that, and as a result I have even taken a step back to evaluate my behavior and reaction to others and it’s not me. People are indeed taking me for granted. At one point I thought about not purchasing any gifts for Christmas, and then immediately rebuked that notion, because it’s against who I am; I’m a giver at heart and love to give and will always do that. So I want to provide a bit of advice to make crossing off everyone on that Christmas list a lot easier.

First, make a list and try to stick to it if you can. You might want to throw in an extra person here and there, but if you cannot afford to do it, do not feel pressured to do it. Second, you have to set a budget and stick to that budget. It is so easy to go against your budget in a goal to accommodate everyone, and as a result you can find yourself in loads of debt. Things might be fun in December, but come January you’ll be shedding the tears.

Third, and this might be the most important of them all, stick to cash, stay away from credit cards if you can. Why? Credit is money that you don’t have and you have to pay back. Sometimes people forget that and as a result, you spend way more than you can afford to pay back. As a result, the interest continues to pile up and it takes months or years to pay off that debt that you have accumulated. What good is it to have credit if you cannot use it when you need it because you’ve exhausted your options?

Here’s my last tip, when it comes to shopping for gifts, plan ahead. What does that mean? You have to decide a place and time that best suits your needs. I used to be that person that enjoyed the crowds, but not anymore. Why? I get frustrated easily and it’s hard to focus when you don’t have an idea what you want to buy people. The crowds can cause you to become impatient, so it’s not a bad idea to get out to the malls or retailers early that way you’re not in the midst of the chaos.

Christmas is supposed to be fun, and you can make it that way by not stressing out over things you cannot control and doing simply what you can and nothing more.

Written By Kelsey Thomas