Maintaining Your Values During the Holiday Season

This week, Maggie gives you tips on how to stick to your own values and needs this holiday season.

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The theme music is called Escaping Light by Aaron Sprinkle. The podcast artwork design is by Maggie’s dear husband, Dan Rader.


Maggie Germano: 00:10 Hey there and welcome to the money circle podcast. My name is Maggie Germano and I am your host. Don’t forget to take a moment and subscribe to the money circle podcast so that you always get the episodes in your feed every week. It would also be really wonderful if you could rate and review the podcast so that more people will hear about it and listen, I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving celebrations if you had them, and now that it’s officially December and we’re deep into holiday season, I want to talk about sticking to your values this season. It’s one of those things that can be so tough because starting before black Friday even came around last week, we’ve been getting inundated with ads and deals. We’re encouraged to shop, shop, shop at every turn. We’re told that in order to show someone we love them, we have to buy them expensive things, and the truth is this messaging hurts.

Maggie Germano: 00:57 A lot of us, in fact, about a quarter of Americans end up in debt or deeper in debt due to holiday spending. To me that doesn’t sound worth it. That’s why I think it’s so important to keep your own goals and values in mind. This holiday season. Yes, that might be easier said than done, but I’m here to give you some tips and ideas for how you can do that. So first, the most important thing, and I honestly think this is important all year round, not just during holiday season, and that is to keep your goals top of mind. What are your financial goals, what are your life goals and what are the goals that kind of combine the two life in general and your money, which is most things. Keeping those goals top of mind and in front of you is a really good way to make sure that you’re actually remembering them and working towards them.

Maggie Germano: 01:49 So a way to do that would be to visualize your goals in some way. So I have more than one client who has created a vision boards that really visualize and outline the different goals that they’re trying to reach. Whether that is they’re saving up for travel or they want to have enough money for general wellness or paying down debt, or just generally being able to do the things they want to do. I also have clients who really love to give gifts during the holiday season, and so making sure that they always have enough money for those gifts as something that’s really motivating for them. Another way, if you’re not super into vision boarding and doing the crafty side of things, there are other ways that you can keep your goals top of mind. So having a photo of the thing that you’re trying to achieve, whether it’s like your dream home or your dream vacation or your dream car, or just being jet, you know, just being debt free.

Maggie Germano: 02:50 So what would your life look like? What would your life feel like if you didn’t have to worry about that debt or that other issue that you weren’t trying to work down towards? So keeping those goals top of mind so that you don’t get as wrapped up in the fervor around holiday spending and all of the commercials and the ads and the emails that you’re getting and just all of that information that’s coming in nonstop, trying to encourage you to spend it can be a little bit easier to maybe delete those emails before you open them or change the channel or whatever it might be. So figure out a way for yourself to keep your goals top of mind so that you remember what you’ve been working hard for all year so that you don’t blow all of that around the holiday season. Next, and this is something that’s really important and that is make a list of the people you actually want to give gifts to.

Maggie Germano: 03:44 You do not have to give gifts to every single person that you know. You don’t even have to give guests to every single person in your family. In my family. My mother has five sisters at all of them, have husbands, all of them have one to five children and now some of them have started having their own children. So there are a lot of people in my family and from the earliest of that I could ever remember, we have not all just given gifts to each other. We each pull a name out of a hat literally. And that is the person that we’re responsible for getting a gift for. So it really cuts down on the cost and the stress around making someone feel special, showing that we love them. It’s, you know, each person is responsible for one other person. And so that’s something that has worked really well for my family and it could work really well for your family.

Maggie Germano: 04:38 It could also work really well with your friend group. So if you have a lot of close friends that you really want to make, feel special and show your love for, but you don’t think you can afford to buy all of them, a gift that is actually meaningful, then get a little bit more creative in that way. I know that Dan and I are going to a holiday party later this month that where there’s a white elephant gift exchange. So again, each person brings one gift. It’s not for anyone in particular and you know, it can be a fun game to trade gifts throughout the night and see who gets what, you know. So there are ways to be creative and save money so that you’re just not going overboard and feeling overwhelmed. I have another friend who just reached out the other day asking if I was interested in exchanging gifts or if maybe we just wanted to go out for a special lunch around the holiday season so that we could spend time together and enjoy each other’s company.

Maggie Germano: 05:38 And that could be kind of our unofficial gift giving. And I really liked that idea because I like spending time with that friend and the other friends in that group. And so it’s a good opportunity to celebrate the holidays together when we might not otherwise see each other in the holiday season. So like I make a list of those people that you actually want to give gifts to. So you know, is it your mother, your father, your sister, your very best friend, your favorite cousin, whoever it might be. Make a list of those people that are the most important to you to be getting a gift for and stick to that list. Try not to let the guilt and the pressure get to you and encourage you to buy gifts for the other people that maybe you didn’t really want to in the first place. So make that list, keep it with you.

Maggie Germano: 06:30 I will often make a list in a notebook and say, okay, you know, I already got this for this person, I got this for this person, but I want to get this for this other person. And so I can actually stick to that and remember what I’ve already purchased for who and what I’m planning to purchase for somebody else. And that’s really helpful not only in keeping that spending in check, but also in just keeping me on track so that I’m not getting too stressed out. Related to that. It’s important to set a budget around the holiday season. And that’s something that I encourage my listeners, my readers and my clients to do actually in the beginning of the year. So getting clear on how much money you want to be spending around the holiday season so that you can be saving all year, save every single month, put money aside automatically every month so that you have plenty of money for that holiday spending by the time the end of the year comes.

Maggie Germano: 07:26 So that’s something that you should try to do in the start of 2020 but if you have done that or even if you haven’t done that, create a budget for yourself for this holiday spending and really do your best to stick to it. So something that I find helpful is having a specific savings account with that money in there. And so I can see exactly how much money there is available to be spending on gifts. Um, if you want to be even stricter with yourself having a specific checking account that’s just for gifts. So you only can use that debit account or that debit card for that account for gift spending so that you know there’s only a certain amount left and you’re not, uh, you’re not tempted to be swiping that credit card. That’s a really helpful way to do it. So putting systems in place so that you’re actually sticking to a budget once you set it is going to be really important because we’re humans, it’s easy to get off track, it’s easy to get distracted and so setting a budget on its own is not necessarily enough.

Maggie Germano: 08:30 You have to put those systems in place, whether it is using a specific checking account where you only are using that debit card for that holiday spending or even taking cash out and only using cash for that holiday spending. So, you know, today I’m going shopping for these three people. I’m bringing, you know, depending on how much you want to spend per person and bring out $150 with me and that cash has gone, I am not buying anything else. So putting those kinds of systems into place to uh, to allow you to stick to that budget is going to be really helpful. Next is getting creative. So I mentioned with one of my friends that we are going to do a lunch or a happy hour in order to celebrate the holidays together. And that’s just one example of how you can get a little bit creative with showing your love around the holiday season.

Maggie Germano: 09:22 So our society has definitely fully embraced the idea of giving gifts as our way to celebrate the holidays. And I don’t see that going away anytime soon. But the truth is that’s not necessarily how you have to do it. However, if you do like giving gifts and, or if it’s a tradition to give gifts, you can be a little bit creative. You don’t have to go to the store and buy something brand new for someone. You can get creative and get crafty and make something. You could make something like a scrapbook for that person to show kind of the history of your relationship with each other or maybe a scrapbook about something that they really love. You could make cookies, you could offer to cook them their favorite meal around the holiday season as a gift for them that, you know, depending on how much those ingredients will cost, it may or may not be cheaper than a gift, but it could be a nice alternate option for showing your love to someone, especially if it’s someone who maybe doesn’t want to receive gifts or maybe you’re trying to buy a little bit less just stuff in general.

Maggie Germano: 10:29 It’s a good idea. Um, it also could be just spending time together. Like my dad often doesn’t really want anything in particular for Christmas because he tends to be pretty good at buying things for himself when he wants them. And so he has said, you know, I would love to just go out to lunch with the three daughters and that is good enough for me. Um, so those are just some options and you can get creative. Like I said, it’s going to depend on the person. It’s gonna depend on you, what you feel comfortable doing, what you’re good at. Um, but you know, try to think outside of the box what are ways that you can show your love and enjoy your time with somebody that doesn’t put you in debt, that doesn’t make you feel like you have to go to the busy mall that maybe stresses you out every day.

Maggie Germano: 11:20 Um, just think a little bit outside the box and get a little bit more creative. You might be surprised about what, what you’ll find. And next is just to learn a little bit more about communicating. So that can be communicating your own budget limitations. And I’ve talked about this before, but I think being positive in those conversations is really important. So rather than saying, Oh my God, I’m so broke, I just can’t afford to buy you gifts and like, please don’t ask me to get you gifts. It’s more like, you know, I have these very specific financial goals that I’m trying to work towards right now. I’m trying to get my financial life in order. So I’m trying to be a little bit more, uh, thoughtful and responsible and creative around the holiday season. So in lieu of gifts I’ll be baking everybody cookies or in lieu of gifts I, here’s an IOU for a day for us to spend together.

Maggie Germano: 12:15 So just communicating those goals with your loved ones as well as communicating with them about what they really want. Cause I know that there are people out there who receive gifts every year that maybe don’t particularly want them. I, I know last holiday season, one of my money circle members asked, you know, how do we have conversations with loved ones when we’re trying to have less stuff in our house? We just want to declutter a little bit more. How do we talk to our loved ones about not wanting gifts? And so those can be difficult conversations, especially with people who really love to give gifts and that’s just something they’ve always done. But communicating about your needs in that way or your desires in that regard as well as finding out what they really want. Cause like I said, maybe the people you’re struggling to get gift forward don’t particularly want them.

Maggie Germano: 13:10 So asking them, you know, what would mean the most to you this holiday season to receive? And I wouldn’t be surprised if a parent was like, I would much rather have you come be home for the holidays, then bring a bunch of gifts. So if it’s one or the other, figure out which one they would prefer. But just communicate, have those conversations. Let people know your situation, let them know that you are trying to connect more and that you want to spend more quality time with people over buying gifts for people. And I think you’d be pleasantly surprised at how open people are to that option. Right? Because there’s nothing worse than buying a gift for someone because you’re supposed to show your love and then presenting them for it because you couldn’t actually afford to buy it for them. So try to move away from that resentment and that stress this holiday season and start adopting your own new traditions that help you stick to your goals and align with your values so that you’re not getting overwhelmed and being pushed into debt.

Maggie Germano: 14:21 Those are just a few of my initial pieces of advice for this holiday season. If you have anything else that you like to do, either ideas for gifts or ideas for showing your love or just ways to stay aligned with your budget, please do share that with me. You can either share in the money circle Facebook group or send me a note [email protected]. You can also send me a DM on Instagram. I’m @MaggieGermano. I love to hear your ideas and your thoughts. Um, so please do share and if you’d love to get more connected with money circle or with me, you can definitely do that. So I mentioned the free Facebook group to join that visit To stay informed of any upcoming in person events, subscribe to my weekly newsletter If you’d like to join the virtual money circle membership group, visit To learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings, or just to read my blog, visit And like I said, you can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter @MaggieGermano. Thanks for listening and enjoy the holiday season. Bye.