As much as we look forward to this time of year, the holidays aren't all merry and bright for everyone. Health concerns, transportation difficulties, and complicated schedules might be preventing some folks from spending time with loved ones this year. Others who are looking forward to the first "normal" holiday dinner in a couple years could be feeling the stress of all that planning and preparation. And for many families, this might be the first holiday meal with an empty chair at the table due to the loss of a loved one.
If you find yourself feeling blue during the next couple weeks, these three ideas could give you a little boost of holiday cheer.
1. Feel what you're feeling.
The isolation we've all experienced since the pandemic might have made us a little too used to keeping our feelings to ourselves. But bottling up your emotions can take a toll. At the low end, ignoring your feelings can make your blues bluer and make those around you feel uncomfortable. Keep those feelings under wraps for too long and they could lead to depression and high levels of stress, which can affect things like your memory, digestion, and heart health.
Sometimes just finding a quiet corner, acknowledging your feelings, and asking yourself why you're feeling this way can provide clarity and calm. But even when it's difficult to do so, opening up to trusted friends and family might relieve some of your emotional burdens and provide some helpful perspective.
2. Be realistic ... and flexible.
Many folks are putting added pressure on the 2021 holidays to make up for all the family time we've missed out on during the pandemic. But trying too hard to make everything "perfect" could take the fun out of get-togethers for both you and anyone you're spending time with. Also, there's always the chance that a cancelled flight or an outbreak of COVID-19 at your grandchild's school could affect your celebration plans.
Try not to let a pie crust that turns out a little too brown or a family member who has to Zoom in from home put too big a damper on your holidays. And if a little one starts tearing into presents ahead of schedule or an unruly pet has a close call with the tree, remember that sometimes it's the imperfections that make a holiday truly perfect, and memorable.
3. Stick to a holiday budget.
Money can be a source of stress any time of the year. It’s especially easy to let the excitement of the holidays, your affection for loved ones, and your best intentions lead you to overspending. Even if you don't technically break the bank on gifts, couples who don't always see eye-to-eye on money issues might have very different opinions about how many presents should be under the tree.
Nonprofits and other charitable organizations also ramp up their outreach efforts during the holidays. If your mailbox or social media feed is bursting with holiday giving campaigns, it can be very tempting to write another check or log in to your PayPal account one more time without keeping track of how much you've donated. What's good for your heart and your community might not necessarily be good for your nest egg, especially if you're a retiree who's already transitioned to a fixed income.
Giving is certainly a big part of the Keen Wealth mission. But whether you're donating to your favorite charity or treating your grandkids, make sure that you're giving responsibility. Creating a holiday budget can prevent some unpleasant surprises once your bank statements arrive next month. You could also talk to your friends and family about setting gift limits so that no one feels like they have to "keep up" with anyone else.
There are also some important charitable giving strategies to consider this time of year. Retirees aged 72 and above have the option of making qualified charitable distributions from their retirement accounts1. In addition to supporting your favorite charities, you might feel inspired to create your own family foundation or charitable trust to make giving a part of your legacy.
I sincerely hope that your holiday celebrations, however big or small, fill you and your family with real happiness. And if a little guidance around budgeting or charitable giving issues could provide some extra merriment before the end of the year, please reach out to my team at Keen Wealth.
1Please consult with an advisor and/or tax professional to see if this would right for you.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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