Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Holidays Should Be About Presence. Not Presents.

I used to love gift giving. That was before we had a strict budget and financial goals to pay down our student debt and purchase our first home. And don't get me wrong, I do love to shop, too. However, my purchases now involve much more scrutiny and a longer thought process.

Do I really need this? 
Can I find it somewhere else cheaper?
Will this last long enough for me to get my money's worth out of it?
How long do I plan to keep this? 
Can these be used for multiple tasks?
Is it on sale?

I know, I sound crazy. But as you can see, I clearly overanalyze everything when it comes to spending my money. Something else I noticed was that I found myself dreading the holidays. I used to feel obligated to reciprocate gift-giving and receiving. I had to be fair. If I got something for so-and-so, I couldn't leave out this other person. How much would they spend on me, and what should I spend on them?

I quickly resolved all of these issues by declaring we wouldn't be participating in the holiday gift-giving before Thanksgiving had rolled around in November 2012. You see, this was the same month we decided to overhaul our budget and pay down our student loan debts. I just decided we would take the minimalist approach to the holidays. I was called a scrooge, but I didn't care! We had goals and I think it's more important to be near loved ones during the holidays,

So, this holiday season, or any season, for that matter, give your family your presence, not presents. I recently read that the number one regret on the top five regrets of the dying is that they wished they lived a life true to themselves instead of living the life someone else expected of them.Not one of the top five listed "I wish I had given a more perfect or expensive present!" So keep that in the back of your mind if you need some comfort or if anyone questions why you're being a scrooge. The latest gadget isn't going to be remembered by someone else when they reflect on their life. I'm sure they would be cherishing the moments you shared instead.

Kelsey is a passionate vegan living in Houston, Texas, spreading the word about the benefits of eating a healthy, plant-based diet. She's also a minimalist enthusiast, a self-proclaimed financial guru of her household, and founder of The Little Red Journal.

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