Gifting without Regret

This holiday season, make a list to gift without regret.

How do you balance giving and financial progress during the holidays?

Tis the season! The holidays bring so much joy, gratitude, and gifting. The holidays can also raise our stress level and leave us with a bit of a financial hangover come January. No one wants to overextend, but we’ve all been there! So how do we give and continue to make financial progress during the holidays?

Gifting is good

To state the obvious, gifting is good. In fact, gifting, or giving is good for us. Studies show that spending money on others, what’s called “prosocial spending”, makes us happy. Gifting actually makes us happier than when we spend on ourselves, even happier than if we make a higher income

Generosity and giving is also deeply ingrained in our culture as Caring Professionals. We all choose careers of mission and in The Beans’ survey data, Caring Professionals consistently rank a desire to be generous as their number one financial wish.

So how do we practice generosity and maintain momentum for financial progress this holiday season? The answer is so simple it may surprise you. Make a list. Make a list of everyone you want to buy a gift for this year. When you make a list of every person you want to give to, you instantly position yourself to make stronger financial decisions.

Why old school list writing works

Making a list reduces your likelihood of overspending. Research shows that we underestimate the cost and inflate the value of purchases considered out of the norm, extraordinary, or infrequent. Think of a date on New Year’s Eve (extraordinary and infrequent) vs. date night, or a bottle of wine on vacation (extraordinary, infrequent, and unusual) vs. a bottle of wine for Friday night. When things are out of the norm, we spend more money. When we go holiday shopping for friends and family and shop for each person individually (extraordinary, infrequent, and unusual) we spend more money on each gift.

The good news is that science also shows that we accurately estimate the costs of “ordinary” purchases. We are used to regular expenses like gas and groceries and are pretty good at  keeping track of how much these things cost. 

When you make a holiday shopping list before you shop, you are turning extraordinary individual gifts, “the perfect gift for mom”, into more regular purchases. By making the extraordinary ordinary, you will spend less on each gift. You can spend with intention and remain focused on your goals.

It really is that simple, like magic, but it’s science!

No doubt your list is full of friends and family members who are most certainly not “ordinary”, but trust us, make a list, check it twice, and maintain your momentum toward financial progress this holiday season.