What Truly Makes You Merry?

There’s that one type of holiday that’s like a 3-month-long endurance boot camp. Forced smiles. Feeling over-scheduled and over-committed, but still forcing myself to show up everywhere. Overspending on gifts because that’s just what everyone has to do, right? Bored with small talking, yet wouldn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable telling them how I actually feel. After that type of endurance race, I need a vacation from my vacation!

I’ve also done the other type of holiday. Scrooge before the ghosts show him what’s up. Be grumpy and wait for it to be over. Try to control others’ false-seeming cheer and balance it out with my own measured irritation. Then I ended up with the Grinch’s tiny heart. Love couldn’t escape or get in that way.

What Does This Have To Do WIth Money?

Oh, just about everything, really. Here is a more specific checklist of how money and the holidays often intersect:

  • For who will I buy gifts?
  • Will I deliver them in person? (costs time) or ship them? (costs money)
  • Will I entertain others in my home or at a local restaurant?
  • If others are entertaining me, do I send them any thank-you gift?
  • What about those people who always get me a gift, even if we’re not that close? Will I buy them one so I don’t have to feel bad about receiving but not giving this year?
  • Will I travel to see family? If so, where will I stay? What will I do when I get there, since I am away from the comforts and routines of home?
  • If this is genuinely holiday/vacation time for me, what will I do to regenerate after a long time of working towards time off?
  • 2014 is just around the corner. What money things do I need to check off my to-do list before I run out of year? (Maxing out the Roth IRA, spending HSA money, etc.)
  • If I’m dating someone, what level of gift do I want to give them? What does my spending plan tell me I can afford to give them? What will it communicate to them that they mean to me?
  • What if I don’t yet have a spending plan…how do I cope with the feelings of discomfort and fear around spending all of this extra holiday money? I need a massage to relax…and that costs either money or a friend’s time!


It’s not inherently good or bad, it’s just how it is. Just lots of material for us to look at, if we choose to.

For deeper personal work, there is also this more specific checklist:

  • What have I left undone this year that would be meaningful for me to spend time on during the holiday?
  • How do I notice my thoughts and/or behaviors changing around money this holiday season?
  • How about the more shadow-y parts of myself? Everyone around me seems some form of jolly…what if I don’t feel that way all the time this season? Do I know what’s going on in my heart?
  • Am I spending quality time with quality people?
  • Am I reaching to BUY someone’s affection instead of doing the more subtle work to appreciate them and celebrate our relationship? Have I used gift-giving to try and replace actual intimate connection?
  • Am I listening to my inner Jiminy Cricket about my spending and saving habits, or am I telling Jiminy to hush up until after this hectic time of year is over?
Breathe. Pause. Hydrate.

Tools You Can Use

  • Today is December 18th. Make a spending plan for the rest of December! (If you don’t have one already, that is.) Put it in writing, and share it with someone you trust has your best interest at heart. Just list categories and amount you will not exceed. Of course, this should not exceed how much actual money is in your bank account!
  • Select a few friends and make a special contact for them in your cell phone. When the urge to splurge strikes, call or text them and talk it out.
  • You can always let a “hot” credit card take a break from riding around in your wallet. When you know enough is enough, you can stick it in a ziploc bag and then put the bag in a bowl of water in the freezer. Know that it will cool off there, and when you know it’s time to get it back out, just save time enough for it to thaw!
  • If you’ve spent your holiday budget, and think of someone else you want to remember, reach out to them! Call, write a letter, do something to let them know they are on your mind. Most everyone has enough “stuff”. I don’t know too many people who don’t want to hear that they are cared about, missed, and appreciated.
  • I used to be absolutely allergic to meditating. Now I love it and look forward to it. If you’re still in the allergic phase, how about just sitting still and not doing anything for 5 minutes? It’s a heck of a start.

I wish everyone the healthiest and most magical end of 2013 possible. Thank you so much for your thoughts, questions, willingness to work together, and resistance to working together. It’s all good!

Sanity is never too far out of reach

Did you notice that Love The Zero picked up an ‘s’ at the end?

Thank you to award-winning designer Clark Take (http://www.clarktate.com/) for suggesting the name change. Love The Zeros celebrates abundance…of money, health, conscious financial choices, quality of life, rigorous honesty, and demonstrated integrity. I’m here to help if you’d like to get organized and fiscally fit. Beth Crittenden  beth@welovethezeros.com   (415) 425-1615.

Note that I will be practicing what I preach, and taking a real vacation between Dec 22-28th! I will be offline but will look forward to answering inquiries when I return to the wired life after Dec 29th.