To help afford all this, the finance site Bankrate suggests working more to alleviate the stress of the holidays, but that sounds like more stress to me.

This year JP Morgan has reported that spending will be down, mainly on airfare and lodging, likely because of the fear of the omicron variant, but also on retail purchases, partly because of worries about inflation.

But relationships strained by pandemic-induced distance and overall price increases almost doom us to spend more than we want. The consulting group PNC computes the cost of Christmas index, comparing the prices of “Six Geese a Laying” and “Seven Swans-a-Swimming” and so on from year to year. It’s up 5.7% since 2019. The Internet may make cost comparisons of the choices efficient, but it’s also easier to spend more than you want due to impulse buying and rising shipping costs.

Do I take my own advice? One of my favorite birthday cards shows a wise Buddhist monk opening a gift box tied with a big ribbon. Open the card and you see an illustration of an empty gift box. The monk says, “Just what I always wanted, nothing.” The irony makes me chuckle because no one ever thinks that way.

I bought 10 of those cards at $4.95 each, and I've given them away over the years with a nice big birthday present. I’m no dummy — I value my social relationships (almost) more than my money.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

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