Unless your name is Santa Clause or Buddy from the movie Elf (“I love Christmas! Christmas is my favorite”), I’m sure turning a blind eye to the holidays has its appeal. Just pretend they aren’t around the corner! Especially when all the department stores are pushing for getting that perfect present and making every effort to sign you up for just one more credit card!
The holiday season is supposed to be a joyous one and a time of being together. A season of giving. Not a “rat-race” in a parking lot, fighting over a spot that gets you 10 steps closer to the entrance. Nor is it supposed to be about breaking the bank or going into debt! If we could only get into the spirit of Christmas without all the crazy chaos, maybe we would be able to take a deep breath and relax throughout the holidays. Enjoy our loved ones, all of the festivities AND financial peace of mind.
How do we do that?
Well, I’m going to give you some tips that work for me!! It does require a little pre-planning, but I guarantee it will be worth it in the end!
The trick to smooth sailing through the holiday season comes down to:
- Decide on a Budget – Determine the dollar amount that you would like to use for Christmas expenses this year. Be sure that you only use funds that you have set aside for the holiday budget… Do not plan to spend more than you have saved with the intention to pay it off later… Paying for holiday gifts on a credit card is never a good idea.
- Make a List…Check it Twice – Now that you have your budget ready, make a list of all the people you wish to shop for and a list of routine holiday expenses. From postage stamps to office party favors to pictures with Santa. Traveling to visit relatives? Include travel expenses. Once you have a good financial picture in front of you, it makes it easier to decide if and what needs cutting from the list. Assign a dollar amount next to each name. Go back over the list and reduce the amount to spend on each person or cut out some names if you fall short of your budget. The important thing is once you decide, stick with it!
- Shop Around – Planning ahead is always a great idea and watching for sales, is a sure way to help not overspend. (It may sound odd, but I’ve even seen friends shop 6 months in advance). No time to drive all over? Shopping online can have many benefits as well! It can help you get a better idea of what to expect and where to go for the best deals! Just like the purpose of a grocery list, a holiday shopping list mapped out to where you need to go will save you time and effort.
- Pay Cash – I like to keep the amount I budgeted as cash on hand so that I physically can see the money going out of my wallet. It helps me stop with those impulse buys and once I’m out of money…..well then, I’m done spending.
- Look for Meaningful Over Glitzy – Who wouldn’t prefer to get a warm cozy blanket made by someone special or some decorative mason jars filled with homegrown spices from your garden or homemade Kahlua in a festive container? Get creative! Have fun! Plan ahead!
I know the holidays can be stressful at times, but I am positive that having a budget and goal in mind from the onset will make it less chaotic and help you accomplish your financial goals in the long run. You may find a little less “Humbug” in your step and a little more holiday cheer!
BTW, since you know how much I love the Profit First Cash Management Method, check out this article by the author of Profit First, Mike Michalowicz, called “What To Give Your Clients In This Season Of Giving”.