It's a lot easier to start habits than to break them. We all know that. The holiday season presents a few opportunities to set good habits, such as sticking to a budget on gifts and supporting charities. It also presents opportunities to set bad habits, such as spending too much money on trinkets and events.
As you work on your calendar of celebrations and draw up lists for gift giving, consider thinking about your family's overall priorities — financial and beyond — and use them to establish good habits, starting even before New Year's resolution season.
For most Americans, the season kicks off at Thanksgiving, a perfect time to take stock of what matters to you and what your family wants to do more of — and less of — with the moments you have together.
Focus on What Matters
Spend that precious holiday time in ways that align with your priorities. For example, if you want to spend more time together as a family, don't overbook your calendar with social events. One great way to stick together as a family is to take a vacation and explore a new locale. Often, credit card points programs may offer great values on travel, allowing you to stretch your dollar.
Another great habit to set during the holidays is to give back to a meaningful cause or charity, either by giving financial support or by donating your time.
Although the holiday season isn't exactly known as the best for physical health, there are ways to set good health habits. As a bonus, outdoor activities usually cost less than indoor at this time of year. A hike in the woods or an ice-skating party can fit the mood and the wallet.
Or, focus on food. Work with your family to include fruits and vegetables in your holiday menus. Helping to prepare holiday meals and treats may make everyone more interested in cooking well into winter. Cooking at home saves money, and if you can fill up the freezer with leftovers from holiday events, you'll set another good financial habit of eating more frequently at home.
And, another way to stay healthy is to get enough rest. Think of calming ways to end the day for you and your excited little ones. Being tired can put you at risk of giving into the holiday temptations, including "retail therapy", especially in the shopping-heavy season.
One Positive Change a Day
The holidays represent a break from routine, and there are plenty of opportunities to overindulge. Consumers averaged just over $1k in holiday debt, according to a MagnifyMoney survey conducted at the conclusion of the 2017 season. To keep things in check, make one positive change per day. Consider keeping a tally of spending to help you stick to a budget, or buying store-brand baking supplies instead of branded products. Alternatively, if your priority is to stay physically fit, pass on the treats and candies in the break room at work. If you can stick to at least one change from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, you're well on your way to establishing a new, positive habit.
During the holidays, you can set the tone for the upcoming year by how you choose to spend your time and money to reflect your family's long-term priorities. If you need help setting or managing your financial goals during the holidays or in the new year, consider speaking with your local PNC Bank associate to discover solutions that work for your family.