Well, it’s just about here…Thanksgiving Day and the rest of the holiday season is upon us. Wow, how the year has flown by, right? I just love all of the gatherings, parties, meals, gifts and laughter that we’ll share in the coming weeks with those we love.
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Along with all the revelry though often comes the temptation to overindulge and derail our goals — whether it’s eating, drinking or spending. However, it’s worth it to rise above it this year and remain mindful of your goals and not let this holiday season knock you off track. You may even find you enjoy yourself and the season more without that pinch of regret! Here is my plan of action.
1. Plan Ahead
Busy schedules and overwhelming to-do lists can have us scrambling to make time to eat well, squeeze in a workout, or check in with our holiday budget. That’s why now is the time to create your plan, make it realistic and stick to it. Maybe working out is not realistic every day during this time of year, but maybe you’ll find that three days a week is. So schedule that time on your calendar and go for it.
Set time aside once a week to plan out your meals, especially the ones for which you most often default to unhealthy eating. Have healthy, quick alternatives on hand so that in a pinch you don’t have to hit the drive-thru on your way home from work. As for your holiday budget, take time once a week – just 30 minutes or less – and review it, make sure you are sticking to your plan and anticipate your holiday spending for the week.
2. Allow Some Indulgence
It’s so easy to sell ourselves on the fact that it’s tradition, that we’ve worked hard all year, or whatever the reason is that we deserve that gift for ourselves, huge meal or sweet treat. Instead of beating yourself up about it, allow an indulgence but maybe just scale it back. Instead of charging expensive diamond earrings on your credit card because you think you deserve them, include a gift for yourself in your holiday budget and assign a reasonable number to it before you end up buying on impulse.
The same goes with food or drink indulgences, plan ahead when you have a special meal coming up and scale back the day’s calories so you can enjoy that special meal or plan to exercise before or after.
3. Consider Your Motivations
For me, overindulging in spending or unhealthy eating during the holiday season usually comes as a result of getting caught up in the moment, trying to impress someone or acting on impulse (I’m sure this has never happened to you!:). I find though that if I plan ahead of time, whether it’s how much I will spend on a particular gift or how much I’ll indulge in the dessert table, and remember my goals (to stick to my financial and caloric budgets) I’m much less likely to regret my behavior later.
Looking ahead can also be a useful motivator to stay on track and on budget. If you go into debt over your holiday spending, it’s important to come up with a plan to pay it off. Using a high percentage of your available credit can hurt your credit scores, and can become expensive – thanks to interest charges — if you aren’t able to pay it off in a relatively short period of time. Keeping an eye on your spending, as well as your credit scores (which you can see for free on Credit.com), can help you stay motivated to get through the holidays without going overboard.
Join me this holiday season in maintaining healthy habits with our wallets and our waistlines.
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Jeanne Kelly is a nationally recognized authority on credit, the founder of The Kelly Group and the author of The 90-Day Credit Challenge. She has appeared on The Today Show, and blogs for Huffington Post & Poughkeepsie Journal. Visit her online at www.JeanneKelly.net.