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Budget Your Time, Budget Your Money: It’s not too late to change your holiday plan


The holidays, for most, are about spending time with family, making special connections, honoring friends and family with gifts and baked goods, and enjoying lots of beautiful music and great movies. I’ve always loved this time of year. This year, however, I am anticipating the season with way more anxiety and stress than I care to admit as well a huge amount of self-imposed pressure to do it “right”.

Not wanting to disappoint anyone, most especially my family, I am already allowing the “spirit of giving” to chip away at my good cheer and threaten my bank account and I’m afraid I’m forgetting what it’s all about in the first place.

The fact that I’m already sleep-deprived and haven’t looked at our budget in months almost has me wishing I could skip the holidays altogether. I say almost because, truthfully, I’d prefer to do them another way. So, if this season is to be any different, I figure it’s time to deal head-on with the two most obvious causes of my stress and anxiety: Time and Money. I need to sit down and take an inventory ~ face the reality of what I have to work with ~ and make choices that will have me enjoying the holidays instead of holding my breath, crossing my fingers, and getting through them.

If you, too, find yourself looking at these next six weeks with some resistance, I encourage you to join me and “coach yourself” into the possibility of a more relaxed, present, fun, and authentic holiday season. As you’ll see, time and money have some interesting parallels.

Coaching yourself means putting YOU on your calendar NOW to look at where you are and what you’re wanting. It means holding yourself accountable to the choices you are making and noticing if they are working for you. The following exercises can be used alone or all together. Have fun with them and let me know how it goes!

It’s Black and White

TIME is finite! You know how much you have. There is no guesswork. There are 24 hours in a day and you get to divide it up any way you choose. The fact that we always have more to do than there is time for is a made-up prospect. Take comfort in knowing it is what it is!

Get out your “to do list”, estimate the amount time each task will take, and map out your schedule. Some things will have to go. Let them. And don’t forget to add sleeping, eating, exercising, and some quiet time to your list! (If you’re really bold, you’ll schedule those first!)

MONEY is finite! You know how much you have. And you get to choose how you spend it. You might not like the amount you have but that doesn’t change how much you have to divide up. Take a deep breath, be brave, and get real with your money!

Create a list of all the things you want to buy in the next 30 days, figure out how much you have to spend above and beyond your regular expenses, and see what you can cover. If you are not able to cover it all, you’ll have to make some choices. This is where you become the rigorous coach; would you rather live with the anxiety and stress of going into debt or the feeling of possibly disappointing others? Sometimes being honest with others gives them permission to do the same.
Your Beliefs Change Reality

TIME beliefs: “There’s not enough!” “It goes too fast.” “Time moves slowly when I’m doing something I don’t like.” “There’s no time for me.”

These are perceptions and projections. They are not true but, since so many of us have the same beliefs, they feel true. A minute takes a minute; it’s no faster, no slower.

MONEY beliefs: “There’s not enough!” “It disappears so fast.” “I deserve to have something new for the party.” “It’s okay to go into debt to make people happy.”

These are conditioned projections about money. They are not true but many of us have been living with them for a very long time so they feel true. A dollar is a dollar; that’s all.

  • Write down some of your beliefs about Time and Money. What do you find yourself saying about them? Choose three that feel limiting and turn them around into something positive. For example: “There’s not enough” becomes “There’s plenty for all I need and want”. Start replacing your conditioned thoughts with your new ones and see what happens. (You might try them in a morning mantra.)

How You Choose

TIME choices: How do you decide what to spend your time on? How do you decide how much time to spend on your tasks? How do you keep time boundaries? When are your boundaries negotiable? How disciplined are you in keeping time?

MONEY choices: How do you decide what to spend your money on? How do you decide how much money to spend on things? When is your plan negotiable? When do you ignore your budget?

  • Write down your answers to these questions or any others that may pop up. If you have a trusted friend, you can ask each other. You might be surprised at what you learn about yourself! Questioning our beliefs opens us up to new ways of being.

Suspending Reality

Cheating TIME: Where and when do you try to squeeze out more time? When do you try to do more than one thing at a time? When are you rushed? Late? If you need more hours in the day, where do you get them? Who is impacted?

Cheating MONEY: When do you pretend that you have more than you do? Where do you justify spending beyond your means? In what situations do you spend money to avoid conflict? What rationales do you use when you overspend? Who is impacted?

  • If you find yourself getting uncomfortable or wanting to stop this process, DON’T! Discomfort is always an indication that you’re getting into the territory of transformation. Stick with it. Remember, this is all about creating the holiday experience you really want!

Visualize Your Perfect Day

Finally, take a moment to close your eyes and look into the future. Choose one day that is important to you during the holidays. Picture the people you hope to be with, what you’re doing… the smells, the sounds, the tastes… and most importantly the FEELING you want to have. Let this be your best guide and intention for what you might be willing to change (or give up) in order to have the most enjoyable holiday you can.

A final note: Don’t be too hard on yourself. Even if you do one thing differently this time around, you’re taking a step in the right direction… a step closer to the real you and the possibility of inviting in a little magic! Happy Holidays!

[AUTHOR:  Jan Ruskin]

November 7, 2013

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