Hi and welcome to another episode of Financial Fluency. This episode I’m talking to you about holiday spending and sharing some tips on how you can keep in control of your finances during crazy season!
If there were ever a time of year created with the specific intention of getting us all to consume and spend more than we would at any other time of the year, it is surely the Holiday Season!.
Benjamin Franklin supposedly said,
“Failing to plan is planning to fail”
So Let’s do Some Holiday Planning!
First up I want to talk to you about presents. Now, this is something we all know that we have to buy, and some of us save up ahead of time, but often we get caught out.
I know we’re already into the holiday season, but wherever you’re at in your process of getting ready for the holidays, sit down and make a list. Make a list of who you’re buying the presents for, how much you want to spend in total, then go through the list and figure out how much you want to spend on each person.
Once you have that done, take a look at how much you’re spending on each person. Does that add up to more than the total amount you want to spend? If so, you need to adjust one of those things.
You can do it either way. You can either realize you’re going to spend more and try to budget for that with the presents, or reduce the amount you’re spending on each person. Once you have that figured out, then I would say go and look for the presents.
And Don’t Forget Those Outside the Family
Think about remembering clients, co-workers, vendors or other business associates that you might want to buy something small for.
Top Tip: I think it’s a great idea to have a sort of go to present. Not that you want to get everyone exactly the same thing but for people who don’t know each other! If there’s something small and thoughtful (and extra points for relatively inexpensive) that you can give to them – especially if they’ll think of you when they see it or open it or eat it – it can save you a ton of time.
Another thing you’ll want to put on this list is holiday tipping depending on where you live and what kind of services you get.
Think about who and how much you want to tip them for. I know in New York this is a big thing, and I’ve never lived in New York, I’ve never lived somewhere with doormen and things like that, so if you do do holiday tipping, make sure you put that into this list so you can get it budgeted in for the entire overall holiday budget.
Once you have those lists, you can start looking at the presents.
Modern Day Santa Lists
I love Amazon Wish List and in our family several of us put things that we want on Amazon Wish List. It’s just like a modern day list for Santa! It saves time and can be really helpful in making sure you’re spending on things that people actually want.
Because I’ve been doing so many audible books this year, I actually asked that people give me some audible gift certificates so I can get more audible books to listen to.
Using Pinterest boards is another great idea, and you can either make private boards where you pin things that you’re thinking about getting different people. Doing that also allows you then to look at the products that you want and then go and shop for the best online deal.
I’m a pretty big online shopper these days, and I know lots of people go in person to do Black Friday shopping and things like that, but I find the atmosphere during those big sales a little too much for me, especially when I’m trying to enjoy my time around the holidays.
If you are an online shopper that gives you more time to do the comparison shopping, and there are a lot of sites that can help you do that.
A few of the most popular comparison sites are: Google Shopping, PriceGrabber and Shopping.com so once you have that figured out, you can check it back with your list of how much you want to spend on different people and how much you want to spend overall. This will really help you get that plan and overview of how much you’re going to spend on everything.
Tis Also The Season to Party
Once we have the presents out of the way, some other things you need to think about are parties and events.
If you’re going to other people’s parties or events, what are you going to bring and what are you going to wear?
If you’re hosting the event yourself, how much are you going to spend on food, decorations and different things?
Try to plan that out, write those down, and then in order to pay for all of those things, I think it’s a great idea to go and do a bit of hunting for hidden cash in your home.
A great way to do that is to look for gift cards. Do you have any gift cards sitting around that you never used, maybe a gift card to a store that you don’t really frequent, but you’ve kept because you thought, someday I’ll use it? Can you use that now to buy any of these gifts or to go towards food or decoration for parties?
Another thing you can do is to check your rewards points on your different cards. If you can use these towards travel – if you’re travelling – that’s probably usually the best way to do it. If not, can you use any of them towards gifts?
The rate that you get on a lot of those cards isn’t fantastic for buying gifts, but if you want to save money right now and there are some gifts that fall into the range that you want for the people that you want, that’s the way to do it without stretching your budget too far putting too much on credit cards.
Make Way for the New (and Earn from the Old)
Another thing you can do is declutter your home to make room for the tree and the new presents that are coming, and see if you can sell any of the stuff you’ve decluttered on eBay or different websites. You can check out a great guide to doing that here.
Target and Best Buy also do trade ins nowadays, so if you kept the last phone from your most recent upgrade, you can possibly trade that in towards something else, maybe something from the electronic department, or you may be able to get gift cards.
Now it’s Up To You
These are a few ideas for first ways to plan out how much you’re going to spend, and then to try and find some hidden cash around to go towards that so it won’t stretch your budget quite as much as we’re used to having it stretched over the holidays.
I feel so bad when I talk to people about that January 1st holiday hangover in terms of their finances. When people say they look at their credit cards and see how much they put on them over the holidays. And then you’re starting out the New Year – a time for making all those resolutions, starting afresh and making new plans – but you have all this extra debt to pay off for quite a few months into the New Year.
If any of these tips help you to have less of a holiday hangover in terms of debt, I would be so pleased about that. Tweet these tips! >>>
Another thing that I think is great to do around this time of year, especially right after the holidays, is to start planning out how much you want to spend next year on the holidays.
I suggest having a savings account where you put just a little bit of money each month, however much you need to put away each month to make it come to the full amount you want by the holidays.
So maybe you want a thousand extra dollars? Divide that by 12 and put that much away each month going forward so that next year at the holidays you won’t have to put things on credit cards and it won’t feel like as big of a stretch for you.
Another way of doing this is to use something like Digit to help you save without even realising it (more about using tech to help with your finances here.)
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Thank you, and happy holidays.
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