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A Budget is a summary document that lists your assets and liabilities to calculate your Net Worth.  It is a very common financial tool, but for our Holiday Budget we’re going to use it differently.

Assets are a valuable or useful quality, thing or person.  Financial assets are easy to measure, but look at this, for me my emotional assets going into the holidays are as follows:

1) Will or Desire to have a “good” holiday (Rank: 5/5)

2) Time, that’s tough.  I feel crunched.  I work full time and kids are busy (Rank: 2/5)

3) Money, I am trying to be careful, but I feel like I have some flexibility (Rank 3/5)

4) Vision, ideas of things I can do, lots. (Rank: 5/5)

5) Labour / Support, I feel modest at best here.  (Rank 3/5)

So with this in mind grab your December calendar and write in your Must Dos: Kids’ concerts, special holiday parties and special meals.  Make your calendar realistic.  What is required from you to attend these events?  Could you just show up?  Do you need to bring a gift, a dish to share, or a donation to the Food Bank?  Do you need to dress up?  How does this schedule make you feel?

With those events in, think about your other To Dos.  Decorating, gift and grocery shopping–again, be realistic.  The malls are busy and the line ups, endless.  How long are these things going to take?  Add them too.  Now how do you feel?  How are each of these things going to affect your Net Worth or really how you feel about yourself at the end of the day?  Before adding ANYTHING else to your calendar, think about how it will affect this balance.

Overspending from your emotional budget will stress you out just as much as borrowing on your credit card.  Setting reasonable goals for yourself and sticking to them could mean a much happier month for everyone.

Let me explain. A few years ago, our school’s Teacher Appreciation Week fell just before the Easter holiday.  The children were encouraged to bring their teachers “something egg-shaped” on the Thursday.  My kids wanted to make egg shaped sugar cookies and I hate to say no, so we made cookies.  Simultaneously, it was also the start of baseball season and I was the manager of my daughter’s team.  I like to be organized about these things, so I wrote the name of each child on the back of their hats in fabric paint which had to dry for 24 hours and purchased iron-on labels to add their names to their t-shirts.  Sigh.  It was the perfect storm.  Thursday morning, as the kids were icing the cooking amongst the t-shirts and hats, I began to melt.  Rest assured it took a lot of fun out of something that could have been enjoyable.  Even though we accomplished a  lot, I felt miserable.

(Let me point out too, that I didn’t list “Baking” as one of my Emotional Assets.  It always takes me longer than it “should” and I shouldn’t add it to any high stress time.  You might even consider it a Liability for me, but we’ll talk about those next time.)

So for me, anything I agree to must be considered within the context of my personal assets.  Things that I immediately knock off are “fussy” gifts that require multiple stops and extravagant planning to execute.  It also means that I need to be really organized with detailed lists to make sure that I make the most of my time and money.  I might also want to consider some online shopping to make the most of my Assets.

What about you?  What are your Assets?  How are you going to use them?