Does your checkbook have a case of the holiday blues?

High inflation rates and stagnant wages can make for an anxiety-inducing holiday season. 

But don’t let these figures scare you—a joyful holiday season doesn’t revolve around your bank account. 

From sipping hot cocoa by the fire to playing card games after dinner, life brings thousands of opportunities for connection. And most of them don’t require lavish gifts or expensive trinkets. 

Ready to add joy back into the holiday season and leave stress spending behind?

What Is Intentional Spending?

In a nutshell, intentional purchases are well-thought-out and carry an intended purpose. Spending intentionally causes you to examine your money-spending behaviors and decide which ones align with your values.

No Penny Pinching Required 

Intentional spending doesn’t necessarily mean being frugal. Instead, it’s spending money on things that have meaning and add to your life, not empty purchases you forget about a couple of days later. 

For example, instead of getting sucked into overspending at holiday “sales,” you could save your money and use it to fly your parents in for the holidays or fund a family activity. 

You work hard for your money, so it’s important to spend it wisely!

More Money Where It Matters

By spending intentionally, each dollar has a purpose. And that purpose pours over into other areas of your financial life, like saving, investing, and giving. 

When you aren’t overspending on things that don’t enhance your life, you have more room to save for retirement, give back to organizations you care about, afford holiday travel, etc. 

This intentional method helps people “break the cycle” of living paycheck to paycheck or getting overwhelmed with debt. 

Let’s dive into seven ways to approach intentional spending.

Tip #1. Avoid Impulse Buying

The best way to minimize overspending on impulsive buys is to ask yourself why you’re making the purchases in the first place. 

In many cases, emotional needs shape spending behaviors. Have you ever tried to raise your spirits from a bad day by treating yourself to dessert or something shiny? Or purchased an expensive article of clothing not because you needed it, but because everyone else has one too?

Now, ask yourself if these purchases actually added value or fulfillment to your life. If the answer is “no, ” it’s likely an impulse buy. 

Here are some more common signs of impulse buying:

  • You shop to relieve stress
  • You try to “keep up with the Joneses”
  • You’re seeking instant satisfaction

Take Back Control of Your Spending Habits

While one or two impulse purchases may not break the bank, a repeated pattern of this purchasing cycle could lead to more debt and less financial security. 

How can you avoid this habit?

Create an intentional purchase plan. 

One way to do that is to create a list beforehand. A list helps keep you organized and focused when you’re out. You can also set a broader cash flow plan for different seasons of your life. 

How much will you spend on gifts for family and friends this year? Does that amount include travel, hosting, etc.?

Planning ahead helps curb spontaneous purchases because you know what’s ahead.

Tip #2. Save Money Throughout The Year

It’s much easier to set aside small amounts of money per month rather than cram all your savings into the short holiday season. 

Slowly accumulating funds throughout the year eases your monthly cash flow burden and can help you make a more intentional plan.

Here are some simple, cost-effective ways to cut down your monthly spending.  

  • Find free (or low-cost) activities: A weekend out doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg! Whether you like relaxing at a movie theater, painting in your backyard, or going on a hike, there are plenty of free and low-budget activities to explore.
  • Review recurring charges: Do you really need three different online streaming services? Are you actually going to cook that 2-month-old subscription meal box sitting in your fridge? Take attendance of your monthly memberships and recurring charges. Get rid of subscriptions that no longer serve you so you can better allocate that money elsewhere. 
  • Make meals at home: Bring your favorite dishes and cuisines into your own home! Learning to prepare these dishes yourself can save you hundreds of dollars each year. More often than not, you could make a $25 restaurant meal for less than $10 at home. Saving money never tasted so good!

You can redirect some of your savings to your “holiday fund.”

Tip #3. Avoid Going Into Debt

Trust us; no “gift” is worth going into debt over. 

But unfortunately, the holidays can be synonymous with rampant spending. And if you’re paying with a credit card, those purchases come at a steep price. 

An interesting survey by MoneyGeek found that in mid-February 2022, over 40% of people hadn’t paid off their 2021 holiday debt. If you have a 21.62% interest rate (the new median for credit cards), your gifts just got far more costly. 

Being intentional about your spending means not overloading expenses on your credit cards or only making the minimum payments to get by. 

Set a holiday budget and ensure your expenses don’t fall outside those parameters. Give yourself that grace, so you don’t set yourself (and your family) back financially. 

Tip #4 Consider Buying Large Items With Help From Others

If your son wants a new Xbox, consider buying it with help from grandma and grandpa (or other relatives)! Going in on a large gift together will ease the upfront financial burden while still giving a gift your son will love.

Tip #5. Don’t Be Afraid to Buy Used

Sustainable for the environment and helpful for your wallet, second-hand stores can be an incredible and budget-friendly place for gifts.

Keep in mind that some products are easier to thrift than others. Outer clothing like coats, jackets, and sweaters make for great thrift finds. If your child is moving into their first apartment, a local GoodWill is a great place to find affordable furniture and dinnerware. 

Tip #6. Make a Plan and Stick to It

Come to a consensus with your family regarding who is getting gifts and how many.

Are just the kids getting gifts? One gift each? Make sure everyone is on the same page and committed to it.

Consider Doing a Gift Exchange Game

Do you have a large family gathering coming up for the holidays? Transform gift-giving into an exciting game by playing White Elephant or Secret Santa. 

This mystery gift game adds an element of surprise to the party and requires players to purchase one gift. 

Tip #7 Have an Attitude of Gratitude

When it comes to gift-giving, sometimes, less is more. 

You can feel confident in that when you develop an attitude of gratitude. 

This mindset involves making the conscious habit of expressing appreciation for everyday things. From food in the cupboards to running water from the faucet, gratitude brings us back to what matters most: family, health, and safety. 

Not only does gratitude make you happier, but it also provides immense mental health benefits. Gratitude and appreciation lessen levels of stress, anxiety, and depression— all of which generally worsen during the holiday season

Give your family the gift of a stress-free holiday by growing your gratitude. 

We Can Help You Create a Plan

iPads, Xboxes, and earbuds, oh my! 

Staring at your family’s extensive holiday wish list can easily make that next trip to the mall (or online store) an overwhelming experience. 

Our financial planners at Chladek Wealth are ready to help untangle your emotions from your spending habits and guide you to financial stability. 

Give us a call today so we can help you achieve peace of mind in time for the holidays.


The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes and should not be construed as specific investment, financial planning, tax, accounting, or legal advice. Please consult with a professional advisor before taking any action based on the contents of this article. 


All investment and financial planning strategies involve risk of loss that you should be prepared to bear. We cannot guarantee any investment performance whatsoever, and past performance is not indicative of potential future returns.