BREAKING THE STIGMA: Avoiding financial worry after holiday spending

The clock is ticking for holiday shoppers and in this year’s economy, that means extra stress and concern about the bills.

So, we’re “Breaking the Stigma” about the anxiety of holiday spending and how to avoid financial headaches come January.

“When we were little, we just drove around. We looked at Christmas lights and that was the big thing,” said Jenelle Caporali, a mom from Apollo.

Caporali knows that times have changed and her family’s holiday to-do list get longer every year. And this year, families are making adjustments thanks to high inflation.

“There are a lot of people that aren’t in a position to just, you know, give give, give and take, take, take,” said Caporali.

Financial experts say the first step in easing the anxiety is knowing you’re not alone.

I sat down with Amber Book, program manager for Pittsburgh’s Financial Empowerment Center. The nonprofit offers free, financial counseling to help people improve their credit and increase savings. She says it starts with thinking before you swipe that credit card.

“It is not extra money. It is money that you borrow and promise to pay back later,” said Book.

She also not to avoid your bills and to be open to discussing money limitations with family and friends. Avoiding the issue only makes things more stressful.

And that leads us to something called “financial empathy”. If someone tells you that they have to give a little less this year, consider telling them, we’ll all scale-back - or maybe share how you felt one holiday when things were tight for your family.

As for help, just ask. The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and places like the Empowerment Center can help families make ends meet. And if you’re already starting to worry about January’s bills, Book says give them a call.

“Come to us, we can really help you take a really good hard look at your budget and make a plan going forward,” said Book.

For Jenelle, she says it’s important to remember that the toys and decorations will quickly fade, and it’s the family time and memories that will last a lifetime.

“Making sure that you’re present for the moments that are around you and that you’re not taking things for granted,” said Caporali.

And remember, every penny makes a difference. So, if you have to mail some last-minute gifts, consider shipping directly from the company, which may offer free shipping. Plus you save on the wrapping paper and shipping materials.