Now that we are into November, there has been a great deal of talk about being grateful for what we have. We’ve even been encouraging people through our own social media to be grateful. After all, that’s what the Thanksgiving holiday is all about.
So, what are you thankful for? No, really. Take a few moments and create a genuine, thoughtful list. What are the most important things in your life? What would you truly struggle to live without?
I’m guessing (and hoping) pumpkin spice lattes are not really on that list.
It is good to know what we are thankful for. Especially if there are people on that list, it is important to express that appreciation for them. But I think we can take this one step further.
These things that we are most thankful to become our priorities and, by human nature, also serve as our motivators. Much of what we do will reflect what is most important to us.
And now to the meat of it. Does your spending reflect your priorities?
I think this is a particularly important time of year to have this conversation. It is, after all, time to start on those Christmas lists. We work hard to come up with just the right items to give to people and spend a good chunk of money trying to give stuff that will be memorable.
I think kids are a great way to evaluate this approach. Those things that you give them – how long until they end up on a shelf or the bottom of a closet somewhere? You have spend money on something that is not of interest to them. They don’t use it. It doesn’t serve any purpose to remind them of you and the relationship you have with them.
I’m not saying ‘don’t give gifts’. But maybe the ‘stuff’ just isn’t the right gifts to be giving. Is your priority your relationship with them? How about a gift of a little weekend getaway? Instead of gifts for your whole family, pay for hotel rooms where there is a pool. You all spend time together, hang out, and strengthen your relationships. This will most likely turn into the memories that you bring up for years to come (hopefully even happy memories, not the other ones).
Maybe time together in a hotel isn’t right for your family. So what is? Often times this different focus of gift-giving is experience-centered. So what other kinds of experience can you gift?
I’m a big Star Wars fan. As the last couple of new episodes have come out, they are usually released shortly after my birthday. So, on those years, I’ve gotten a gift card to the movie theater from my wife and kids. They wouldn’t have had to do a gift card. It all comes from the same account anyway. But what the gift really meant was that we as a family were going to spend time going to a movie that my son and I in particular really enjoy. And yes, my wife and daughter have enjoyed them so far as well. But we did it all as a family.
So I challenge you to move beyond just holiday spending or even creative spending. Try grateful spending this year. Whatever amount you do choose to spend, make it intentional and make it reflect what you are truly grateful for. Maybe it will mean spending money. Maybe it will mean spending a different amount of money. Maybe you will realize you don’t have to spend any money at all to reflect your priories that you are grateful for. That doesn’t mean it won’t be a good Christmas. It might even end up being one of your most memorable Christmases.
As you lay out your priorities that you are most grateful for, you may find you need to make some adjustments. If those adjustments involve your finances, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. The counselors at the Center for Financial Resources are here to help. Even if it is just putting together a budget to plan for the next couple of months, we can help with that. You can schedule an appointment by phone at 605-330-2700 or by going to our website. Appointments are available in-person, by phone, or through a secure web portal.
written by Breck Miller, Community Relations Coordinator
images courtesy freedigitalphotos.net
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