5 Steps to a Healthier Financial Holiday
The “silly season” has arrived, which is an exciting time of fun and celebrations, but also often causes us to put extra pressure on our wallets. However, the best gift we can give ourselves and our families this festive season is to make good financial decisions.
The first step to ensuring that you spend wisely this festive season is to draw up a realistic budget. Start by prioritising your living expenses such as rent/bond, food, water and electricity, insurance, debt and school expenses. Over and above your daily living expenses and debt, you need to state clearly what is available for gifts, travel and entertainment over the festive period.
Once you have drawn up your budget, the hard part starts… sticking to it. Here are five steps to make keeping to your budget a little easier these holidays:
Get an Early Start
Prices tend to skyrocket over the holidays, so make sure you start your shopping early. Be careful with specials, as some shops don’t give true discounts, but merely inflate their “normal” prices.
The Budget Diaries
Mentally adding what you’ve spent after every swipe isn’t always the best way to keep track of your financial activities. Try using a budget app when you go shopping; you’ll be surprised how quickly small amounts add up. The app will also keep track of what you’ve bought and where you’ve short- or over-spent.
The Christmas Kiss Principle
KISS is an acronym for “Keep It Simple, Stupid”, a system developed by the U.S. Navy in the 1960’s. Keeping it simple can also be applied to your holiday spending and activities. Instead of eating out, try making healthy meals at your own home or keep the kids busy with free activities available in your neighbourhood, e.g. cycling in a public park or hiking in an open nature reserve.
A Secret Santa Saver
The gifting season can get quite pricey — especially if you have to cater for an extensive family. However, the answer may lie in implementing a Secret Santa operation. Names are drawn out of a hat and each person buys and receives one gift. Set a limit on the amount of money each person’s gift may cost, and everyone wins. Children, of course, are excluded from the plan.
Plan for “Januworry”
Sensible saving doesn’t end once the month is over. Most people receive an early paycheck in December, meaning your next payday only arrives at the end of January – an almost 6-week stretch. Before you even begin to plot your gift shopping, switch up your priority list and start planning for January now.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that the giving season doesn’t mean it has to be the spending season. Instead of gifts, spend time with your family and friends, take part in some charity work or invest emotionally in a cause close to your heart. After all, the holidays are meant to be celebrated and enjoyed.