The focus for many around the holidays is family, food and fun not finances. This is as it should be because even though life requires a lot from us, it is meant to be enjoyed. Although we are striving to always save more, manage our money better, insure against losses, and get our necessary papers in order, it’s also important to stop and smell the roses (as they say).
We humans tend to focus on the negative. I remember years ago, when I worked as a financial consultant at a financial institution that was going through a merger, some of the customers complained loudly and often at the change. The negativity was taking its toll on the staff. A very astute branch manager set out a bowl of chocolate kisses at each bank teller station. Every time a customer was nice and friendly (not the crabby ones), the teller handed them a chocolate kiss and said, “Have a great day.”
At the end of the day, the tellers were astonished that all the candies disappeared. They were so focused on the disgruntled people that they never noticed there were actually ten times as many nice ones. This negative focus seems like a common occurrence. It is almost like our brains are wired to focus on the negative – maybe it has to do with some reptilian survival instinct.
Today, or even the whole week, let all that go. Be positive and don’t worry too much about what you haven’t done but stop and think about what you have. Ask yourself these questions and think about what you did right this year:
What do you have that is working in your life financially?
Have you paid down some debts this year?
Have you saved money in your 401(k) and picked up some additional savings in a company match?
Did you fund some of your health care expenses with pre-tax dollars in an HSA?
Did you pay your mortgage – getting you one year closer to having it paid off?
In other words, count your blessings and relax and enjoy yourself this holiday season. We’ll work on the New Year’s resolutions later!