Meaningful Within Your Means

The holidays can take a lot out of you and in the midst of all that joyful hustle and bustle, you can end up overspending. That’s why we want to help you be meaningful within your means.

The things that mean the most to you, are well within your means.

Most of our holiday memories are not about the gifts, but about the traditions and stories shared with families. SunTrust wants everyone to avoid the “holiday hangover” so you can start the New Year thinking of all the great new memories and not how much your credit card bill is going to be that month.

Growing up, I remember my mom making Christmas sugar cookies and we would all enjoy decorating and eating them. As a family, we made plates of treats or bags of popcorn to deliver to our neighbors and friends. Many of those blessed souls would get to listen to our caroling as well. I’m sure the treat made it worthwhile to stand there awkwardly while we sang. 😉 Family, music, and food have always played a big part in the holidays for me.

As adults we spend A LOT of time trying to recreate those feelings and memories we had as children. While we may succeed, we also tend to create a lot of stress while money is just sucked right out of us. Meaningful within Your Means is a challenge to try or do something differently this year so that you can avoid a case of the “overs-” and create lasting meaningful memories of the holidays. Being a person that stresses out easily and often, this is such a good challenge for me. I love it! There are 3 areas of focus. Try and do something from each area.

YOU – No one’s holiday is going to be enjoyable if you are not able to enjoy it yourself. You need to make time for yourself daily/weekly.


  • Liberate – Skip that ritual that stresses you out! (…newsletter style holiday cards, baking 50 dozen cookies, Griswold style Christmas lights…) You do not have to do it all!
  • Let go of perfectionism.
  • While you may have an iron clad budget, do you have a holiday budget? Use the holiday planning guide to make sure you have accounted for all those expenses that sneak up through the holiday season…going to 6 holiday parties can get expensive!
  • Manage expectations early on – this is one that can have the biggest impact to your budget. Gift giving…everyone, draw names, nothing…you need to decide soon so that everyone is on board

TOGETHER – Being with family and friends is what the holidays are all about.


  • Do something together as a family every week in Dec – something FREE. Drive around and look at lights, hot chocolate and holiday specials night, look for community activities to participate in, family tacky sweater day…
  • In lieu of gifts, you and your friends do something together as a group. Potluck at someone’s house, reservations at that great new restaurant everyone has been wanting to try.

GIVE – There are many opportunities to give during the holidays. This is also a great time to teach children the importance of giving. Giving your time to volunteer as a family is a great TOGETHER activity.


  • Instead of gifts, make a donation to a charity that is important to you. You can make one large one in honor of all your friends and family or divide up into groups (family, different circles of friends –work, neighborhood, college etc) and make smaller donations to a few groups.
  • Ask your church or a church in your community if they know of any families that need a little “extra” this season and put together a care package for them to be delivered anonymously.

caroling family

My YOU – I am going to skip the newsletter Christmas cards this year and keep the gift budget in check. I often end up over-buying for my kids and this year I am really going to keep it under control.

My TOGETHER and GIVE – I am going to use the money I save from not buying too much stuff for my kids to anonymously give to a family in need in my area. I know of many dear people with needs this year and I have been wanting to start doing this as an annual family tradition for a while. And I just might make my family go out caroling too.

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. They want to help you reduce holiday stress through tools, advice, and inspiration that encourages you to make your holidays meaningful by spending within your means and focusing on meaningful experiences.

To get started visit

Meaningful spending made easy with a budgeting tool to help you make a plan and stay on track with your holiday spending.  Download here.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.

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