While I love Christmas – I find the commercialism of the holiday season a tad overwhelming. With all the hoopla we tend to overlook the real meaning of the holiday. We often get caught up in all the hype and spend, spend, spend – whether we can afford it or not.
With tomorrow being Black Friday and with Christmas just a month away, there’s no better time than now to start saving and planning for the financial hit that traditionally occurs this time of year.
We’ve entering the time of the year when we typically spend the most money. Between gifts for loved ones, travel to see family and the cost of attending seasonal events, the holiday season can get rather expensive and spending within our means can be a real challenge.
Planning ahead not only puts you in control of your spending but it also gives you peace of mind. If you do need to travel during the holidays, make your plans now. Comparison shop online and use travel coupon codes to get the best deal you can on airfare.
Having a budget and/or a good money saving plan can make all the difference. Budget first – plan and write your shopping list second.
Always spend relative to your financial position. In other words, spend only what you can afford after you consider your current income, expenditures, and financial obligations e.g. your mortgage payments and any balances you carry on your credit cards.
A budget is a great money management tool.
When making a Christmas budget, it’s important to take all related expenses into consideration e.g. gifts, holiday food, seasonal decorations, social costs, charitable giving etc. Spend some time thinking about where your money goes between now and January 1st. One of the best ways to come up with your total figure is to write all your expenses down and give yourself a good visual picture of what you’re actually dealing with.
Compare your estimated total against your ideal budget. Chances are good, your two figures won’t even be close and you’ll have to make some adjustments if you want to spend within your means.
Look at all the areas where you can reduce your spending between now and Christmas. For example, say yes to only the most important events and borrow or wear what you already have instead of buying something new just for a single event. And, if you can’t give your regular charitable donations in cash this year – volunteer your time instead.
To Use or Not To Use Your Credit Card
It’s really quite simple - unless you pay off your credit card balances every month you should seriously limit your credit card use during the holiday season. By limiting credit loans for holiday spending you avoid inflating your debt in the New Year.
If you do decide to use a credit loan for some or all of your holiday purchases, it’s wise to verify the credit limit on any cards you plan on using before you hit the mall to do a major shop.
There’s no time like the present to start saving. How much did you spend on Christmas last year? If you spent $1,000 in 2015 and plan to spend a similar amount this year then you’ll have to save $125 per week for the next eight weeks in order to pay off your credit card balance in January (assuming of course, you don’t have an outstanding balance).
What are your personal shopping habits like? Starting today seriously look at any negative spending habits you have. The bottom line is if you can’t afford to pay off your credit card in November, then you can’t afford to add a lot more to it. ‘Christmas’ is not a valid excuse for increasing your debt load.
If you really want to stick to your budget and avoid impulse spending, pay with cash. Typically we tend to spend more when using credit cards instead of cash or debit.
This Christmas, make a written commitment with yourself to stay within your budget. Doing so will help you resist last minute impulse buys as we head deeper into the holiday season.
By shopping within your means, you won’t have to face the burden of excessive January bills. This year give yourself permission to have a Christmas you can actually afford. You’ll thank yourself come January.