Meaningful within your means this holiday season #holidaymeans

The holidays can take a lot out of you and in the midst of all that joyful hustle and bustle, you can end up overspending. We’re working with SunTrust Bank again to help share ways you can be meaningful within your means. Any bank can talk to you about just money. SunTrust does more than that. It’s about depositing hope, instead of checks. And withdrawing stress, instead of cash. It’s about indulging in the currency of kindness. Because the things that mean the most to you, are well within your means. Time with family, the warmth of the season and cozy nights at home.

Meaningful within your means this holiday season #holidaymeans

As you know, I typically share gift guides around this time of year and this year will be no exception. I love holiday shopping and really enjoy buying for others, but just like everyone, I tend to overspend out of the excitement of the holiday season. This year I’m doing things differently.

SunTrust’s holiday budget worksheet is an awesome way to start your holiday planning.

As adults, most of our holiday memories are not about the gifts but the traditions and stories shared with families. SunTrust wants everyone to avoid the “holiday hangover” so you can start the New Year thinking of all the great new memories and not how much your credit card bill is going to be this month.

My childhood holiday memories

Meaningful within your means this holiday season #holidaymeans

My brother and I were raised by my grandmother and great grandmother. The four of us and our dog Mikey lived in a small house in my wonderful hometown. My grandma always got in the holiday spirit early. We put up our tree with colorful lights and handmade ornaments the day after Thanksgiving. She also had many fun decorations around. I’m certain I got my holiday decorating genes from her. I still go Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving every single year with her and have so much fun doing it. Here we are in all of our poofy-hair glory with my two cousins and my brother.

I loved decorating and loved laying by our old heater in the family room with the colorful holiday lights twinkling away. My greatest memory is of decorating for the holidays and enjoying the warmth of the “old stove heater” and the feeling the lit up Christmas tree brought to our home. It was comforting and peaceful. I honestly can’t remember more than a handful of gifts I ever received because the time with family and the warmth of the season are the stronger memories.

As adults we spend A LOT of time trying to recreate those feelings and memories we had as children. While we may succeed, we also tend to create a lot of stress while money is just sucked right out of us. Since having children, I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to create amazing memories and get Bodhi and my husband great gifts. It’s silly though. If I’m stressed out, no one is enjoying our traditions and memories as much as we would if I were keeping it simple.

Meaningful within Your Means is a challenge to try or do something differently this year so that you can avoid a case of the overspending, overdoing and more and instead create lasting meaningful memories of the holidays.

Toddler makes and then breaks a gingerbread house

Throw perfectionism out the window

No one’s holiday is going to be enjoyable if you are not able to enjoy it yourself. You need to make time for yourself daily/weekly. Here are a few examples of ways I’m going to take the stress and spending down a notch this year even if it means not doing everything I always do:

  1. Holiday cards are going out the window. I may send New Year’s cards or I may not. I may just post a family photo on Facebook and call it good! The time it takes to write out all of the addresses isn’t worth it for me anymore. I used to enjoy it, but I don’t now. I’d rather be baking cookies, making a gingerbread house with my 3-year-old or having an indoor snowball fight.
  2. I’m buying all of the dessert for our Very Merry Cocktail Party and they aren’t going to be super expensive desserts. I’m keeping it simple.
  3. I’m letting go of perfectionism and my worries over the expectations I believe others have of me for our annual party and Christmas.

While you may have an iron clad budget, do you have a holiday budget? Use the holiday planning guide to make sure you have accounted for all those expenses that sneak up through the holiday season such as hostess gifts for all of the parties.

Manage expectations early on – this is one that can have the biggest impact to your budget. For gift giving, our larger family plays a fun game where everyone brings a gender-neutral $25 gift and we swap rather than buying for everyone.

Meaningful within your means

Create manageable holiday traditions that feel good

Being with family and friends is what the holidays are all about. The photo above shows B and I with my cousin (sister-from-another-mister) and my mama after hitting up the Holidazzle Parade in Minneapolis. Our only expenses were cups of hot cocoa and parking.

I’m focusing on creating traditions with my boys that are simple yet memorable. Examples of things I plan to do that don’t cost much:

  1. Hot cocoa by the Christmas tree and fireplace while a Christmas movie is playing.
  2. Drive around and look at holiday lights.
  3. The 8th floor of Macy’s plus strolling the new Minneapolis holiday market.

Give, give, give

There are many opportunities to give during the holidays. This is also a great time to teach children the importance of giving. This is something that also makes a great TOGETHER activity, giving your time to volunteer as a family.

Our favorite way to give is by sponsoring a family through a local nonprofit or shelter. We have done this for a few years now and enjoy it plus it’s incredibly humbling and reminds me how all of this stuff we think we need and all of the gifts we try to buy are ridiculous since we have everything we need and more. This year we plan to include Bodhi much more in the experience.

For more resources for the holidays, visit SunTrust’s holiday resource center.

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. They want to help you reduce holiday stress through tools, advice, and inspiration that encourages you to make your holidays meaningful by spending within your means and focusing on meaningful experiences.

To get started visit

Meaningful spending made easy with a budgeting tool to help you make a plan and stay on track with your holiday spending.  Download here.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.