Holiday Flicks with Financial Tips


When I think back on this year, the phrase “the days are long, but the years are short” comes to mind. The early days of the pandemic feels like a lifetime ago, but as we continue to navigate this new normal, we can still look forward to the same yearly joys and stressors the holidays bring. Let’s look at four tips to help you budget and plan for this holiday season, inspired by some of my favorite holiday movies.

“Jingle All the Way” tells the story of two men in search of the year’s most popular toy for their child.  Unfortunately, they waited to go shopping and are forced to spend their Christmas Eve day in search of the gift. What a stressful way to spend the day! Plan for the holidays early by creating a list of holiday expenses. The list should include gifts, cards, wrapping paper, travelling expenses, etc. Write down who will get what gifts ahead of time, and what you will need to wrap and deliver the gifts.

When you sit down to create a list of gifts you will be giving, keep little Ralphie and his family in mind.  The Parker family in “A Christmas Story” sure was obsessed with stuff.  Ralphie was fixated on a certain gift he wanted, while his Dad was sure to show their neighbors the expensive items they owned. The reality for most of us is, we cannot afford to buy every gift that every person we love wants. Christmas surely is a time when many strive to keep up with the Jones’s, but all that may get you in the long run is a big credit card bill and more stuff taking up space in your home. As you think about what gifts you will be giving this year, set a spending limit and focus on spending within your means.

You’ve created a shopping list and budget, the hard part is done, right? I would argue the hard part is just beginning! It is very easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the holiday season, push the budget out of your mind, and throw all caution to the wind!  While we certainly don’t want you to go green and ruin the holidays like the Grinch, I should remind you that even though all of the Whos’ presents were ruined, they remembered Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe the holidays, means a little bit more.

So, what does all that mean for us in 2020? At one time or another this holiday season, we all might need to work on finding a little extra cheer. The movie “ELF” shows us how to find joy in everyday moments by telling the story of a human who was raised in the North Pole by elves. Buddy the Elf goes on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, and throughout the story, he experiences the city and the mundane things New Yorkers put up with daily for the first time. For Buddy though, things like getting coffee and taking a taxi is exciting! What a unique way to look at our everyday lives. COVID-19 has affected many things this year, and it might impact how you can spend your money or time this holiday season. Times are tough, but let’s try to be a little like Buddy and look forward to the things we can celebrate and do so with excitement!

If you’d like support budgeting or planning for your financial future, WESTconsin Credit Union has the resources to help! For free financial tools, visit our online learning center at or call to speak with one of our Member Services Representatives today.

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