Financial Life Focus

How to clearly navigate your financial life

Avoiding The Holiday Stress-fest

How to change the game and make it REAL celebration!

I am not a jealous person. In fact, I would put myself right up at or near the top of the list of people who root and celebrate the success and happiness of others. As the Christmas season approaches, families are gearing up for the upcoming festivities with great anticipation.

As a Jew, I have never experienced the process and preparation of Christmas, but it’s all about good times, family, friends and religious celebration. What could be bad about the apex of positivity and happiness?

I cannot help but notice, however, the looks of stress and sometimes even downright misery on the faces of people trying to make EVERYONE happy. Trying to satisfy everyone in your life sounds like the expectation scale has been expanded beyond reasonable (or you might want to put in your application for a position that starts with the title “Almighty”).

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If it’s reasonable to assume that that position has been filled, you might want to back off the expectations and climb down off your own back and enjoy the journey through the holidays. Your mission—should you choose to accept it—is to adopt a new mindset through the holidays:         

  1. Give yourself permission to shift from making everyone’s expectations your problem.
  2. Set a spending limit that works in your budget (Note: overspending to make other people happy only ends in your misery).
  3. Focus on the quality time devoted to friends and family.
  4. Give real meaning to the “words of the season”.
  5. Know that showing your connectedness with others is not correlated to the amount of money you spend.
  6. Show your children—since they copy your behaviors—the lessons you want them to learn.


Yes, adopting this vision is incredibly challenging. But so are the feelings of guilt, the “shoulds” and the pressure you place on yourself every year.

Isn’t it time to really enjoy the spirit and meaning of this wonderful time of the year?

Merry Christmas. 

Michael F. Kay, a Certified Financial Planner, practitioner and a CPA, is president of the firm Financial Life Focus.


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