By: Kevin Onishi, Community Engagement Specialist, Keiro
We live in an era where hearing someone preach the importance of healthy eating occurs almost as frequent as a Taylor Swift song on the radio. Whether or not this abundance of health-related material is available because of the Southern California lifestyle of looking fit for Vegas day clubs, or because people are genuinely concerned these days about adopting healthy lifestyle choices, one thing is for certain. A simple Google search can show you multiple ’Healthy Post Workout Meals’ or even ’10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease’. With the holidays only a few days away, I bet these health articles are beginning to have some sort of festive tie-ins as well. Don’t get me wrong, these articles are great and as a Public Health major, I think it’s awesome to see this widespread health conscious movement across the age spectrum. However this post is not going to tell you how you can reduce the sugar content in your gingerbread cookies (it’s the holidays…treat yourself). Instead I want to talk about another aspect of the holidays that, if not monitored closely, can have detrimental impacts on your overall health down the road. That is financial wellness.
You’re probably thinking, sure we live in a consumerist society and our wallets tend to be a little loose during the holidays, but how does that affect my health? If anything, it should just affect my wallet right? Well you are right, it does affect our wallet and though our wallet is not a biological extension of our physical body, our wallets are an extension of our mental body. Forbes reported that in 2014, Americans spent an average of $781 on Christmas gifts.1Now depending on your financial status, $781 may or may not be a lot of money. As someone in their mid 20’s, $781 is a LOT of money. If $781 disappeared from my bank account right now I would be freaking out. I’d start to worry about making my rent, paying my bills, and then I might even cry over the thought of eating turkey sandwiches for the rest of the month. Going to happy hour and taco Tuesdays would definitely be out of the picture as well. Life would become sad and I bet I would be pretty stressed. I bet if this happened to you, that you would be stressed as well. What would you do if you had an unexpected car repair, or you had to pay for a medical bill? Where would that money come from? More problems will occur and more thoughts will linger in your mind, which will cause your stress levels to compound on top of each other.
The American Psychological Association defines stress as a feeling of being overwhelmed, worried or run-down. Being in a financial hole can definitely evoke feelings of being overwhelmed, worried or run-down.2 Typically, you can overcome stress by adapting these changing conditions. However when you are under constant stressors (caused by things such as financial debt), your body becomes susceptible to chronic stress. If not managed properly, chronic stress can result in serious health conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, hypertension and a weaker immune system. Additionally, stress has been linked to diseases such as obesity and diabetes, and unhealthy habits such as binge eating and lack of sleep tend to coincide with poor stress management.3
So if spending a lot of money during the holidays stresses me out, and chronic stress can lead to chronic health conditions, I should just stop spending money then right? Well sure you can take that route if you really want to. Actually I applaud you because really the holidays are more than just materialistic objects, but at the end of the day we all enjoy getting presents. So here are five tips you can use next year to take away some of the stress when it comes to holiday shopping. Disclaimer…I do not have a finance background unless you count one quarter of college accounting.
1) PUT IT ON A CREDIT CARD
I say this on the edge of caution because credit cards are often a double edge sword. On the pro side, you can use borrowed money from credit loaners to use towards your holiday shopping. If you are responsible enough, you can take advantage of low interest rates to pay back the borrowed money over an extended period of time. Credit cards also have great reward programs where you can earn cash back. Typically I just use my credit card the whole entire year, and then use my cash back rewards during the holidays. On the con side, credit cards can ruin your life if you don’t make your payments on time.
2) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ONLINE PROGRAMS
We live in a world where we are just one simple Google search away from a trove of answers. Believe it or not, people scrounge e-commerce stores for deals and coupons and post them conveniently on websites and blogs. Retailmenot.com is a site I regularly visit to get codes and coupons for things such as ‘$15 off purchases of $75 or more’ or even free shipping. Honestly if you ever pay shipping for something bought online, you got hustled. Additionally there are sites such as ebates.com that serve as a middle ground between retailers and consumers. You can sign up for their services and receive additional cash back for e-commerce purchases from big retail stores such as Macy’s, Best Buy, Amazon, etc. (they split the commission they receive from these retailers with you which is how you get this cash back reward).
3) BLACK FRIDAY
I personally have only gone Black Friday shopping once in my entire life, and once was enough. It’s impossible to find parking (although Uber solves that problem), lines are too long and stores become memorial sites for the fallen shoppers. But you can’t deny the fact that Black Friday deals are sometimes too good to pass up on. With stores offering upwards of 60% off select items, Black Friday deals can really help you buy things when you are on a budget.
4) CYBER MONDAY
If you agree with me that Black Friday is too crazy, Cyber Monday is for you. It’s the e-commerce equivalent of Black Friday (occurs on the first Monday after Thanksgiving) and again, offers deals that are seemingly too good to be true. Additionally you can really take advantage of Cyber Monday when you pair it with your credit card rewards AND cash back programs such as ebates – low prices and you get a ton of cash back opportunities.
5) DO IT EARLY
Bad things always happen when you procrastinate right? You can always get your holiday shopping done in months other than November/December as long as you are good at hiding these gifts for that long and having a good enough memory to remember where you hid them. There are also great sales that happen periodically throughout the year that you can take advantage of like anniversary sales that Nordstrom and REI offers.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holidays don’t have to negatively affect your health and your wallet. Keep your personal and financial commitments in check. Have a nice balance in work, home, and play. Get and give support to family and friends. Relax and have a positive outlook and most importantly, make sure you get plenty of sleep and rest!
About the Author:
The material presented on this site is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the opinions of Keiro, or its contributors. Readers should consult appropriate health, legal, or financial professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. Full disclaimer