Planning for Christmas | December 16, 2015
The holiday season is right on our doorstep; they’re playing Christmas music at the shops, the Christmas Seafood is pre-ordered and we’re starting to feel the stresses of finding the perfect gifts for our loved ones. It is a common occurrence around this time to loosen the grip on the wallet, losing momentary focus on the budget and the big financial picture. After all, isn’t this the season to eat, drink and be merry and enjoy up to four weeks of hard-earned holidays and entertainment?
Managing holiday spending can be tricky with increased expenses from parties, gifts and big holidays. Although it may seem great at the time, our Christmas spending habits can lead to a serious financial hangover come the New Year. Check out our February Credit Hangover Blog Post from CFB Director, Tapel Cafer. The following top tips for planning and tracking your holiday expenses could help you enter the New Year in good cheer, and set you on the right track for meeting your financial goals for 2016.
1. Set A Reasonable Budget
Decide a total spending budget, and stick to it. If the February credit card bills gave you the chills earlier this year and you started to plan your Christmas spending earlier (see our Christmas Spending Guide Blog) then you might have already put away some savings to dedicate solely for the holiday season – keep to that budget! If, like a good majority of us, haven’t been putting away money throughout the year for a holiday season budget, a clear and concise budget is a beneficial tool to help you keep track of your expenses, and can help take away any nasty and unexpected surprises early next year. Perhaps consider your other expenses and income for the time period, and decide for yourself if you should look at your saving’s.
Decide which items on your list are essential and which are not. For instance, a certain gift for your child may be a must-have while a brand new set of Christmas decorations may be simply nice to have. As you shop, work your way down your priorities as your pre-determined budget allows. And although it may seem obvious, check it off your list – avoid over-buying and keep those priorities straight. As CFB Director highlighted in his February Credit Hangover article, “You have to ask yourself … do your children want your presence or your presents.”
3. Review Your Christmas Spending from Last Year.
Was the spend figure last year worth it? If yes, then stick to your guns and keep that budget on track this year. If you said no, and your credit card statement left you in cold sweats, then review you Christmas list, purchase with a purpose and focus on meeting your families expectations not only just with presents, but also with memories and holiday fun. “Christmas doesn’t have to be all about the money, it can be about the special times, and can draw on a good plan to achieve a better outcome next year”.
After a long working year, your holidays certainly should not be spent ‘checking the books’ or worrying about every little cost. Tying up your financial loose ends for the year, along with having a clear budget and using the tips listed above should make for a stress-free holiday season. Stay tuned for our next series of blogs where we will be covering top New Year Financial resolutions and some interesting Financial To-Do’s for 2016.
This article is for general information purposes only. It has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should, before acting on the advice, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances.
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