We get bonunses. Money is abounding. People love to spend. Banks are offering sweet credit card deals. Bazaars and mall sales are all around. If we’re lucky, our godparents remember us and slip in a check here and there. That, my friends, is the perfect scenario to breed overspenders. Have you ever ended up broke on January, only looking at the month that just passed by so fast? Well, slow down fella, and keep in mind these tips on how to avoid overspending this Christmas:
1. Buy just one “reward” for yourself.
I know this is difficult to understand for some but we know you’ve worked hard for the entire year. There’s a lot of stuff on sale and you think you deserve all of them. Or, well, at least five of them. Aside from a new outfit set (shirt, bottoms, shoes, bag) that won’t bust your budget, yes, go ahead and buy that one big pricey reward. But just one, okay? I’m not really a spender but I value comfort and protection so this year I might be buying a new Rayban (I lost one pair last September huhu) or a new pair of FitFlops. Remember that since you worked so hard for the year, you have to enjoy your money for better purchases. Which brings me to my next tip. . .
2. Seriously consider investments rather than things that easily depreciate.
One of the best things that you can buy yourself this Christmas is a stock market investment. Read up on newbie investing and ask help from friends who know and do stock investing/ trading. If you think that’s too heavy for you, you can start small with mutual funds, time deposits or treasury bonds. Ask advice from friends who are knowledgeable about this. As for the “gift for thyself”, if you want it to be a material thing, maybe you can consider buying jewelry rather than a new gadget that you don’t really need. Another great idea is buying insurance. After all, isn’t peace of mind one of the best gifts you can give yourself (or anyone) this time of the year?
3. Have a price limit on the total amount of money you’re going to spend for gifts.
Okay, you’re feeling like you want to play Santa this year. The ending? Your credit card bill and your wallet looking more like Halloween than Christmas. We know that the feeling of giving creates good vibes but don’t get too carried away. Remember, when the season is over, you’ll have the same bills to face, plus your shopping. Allot a maximum amount for gifts and carefully divide among recipients. Of course you’re going to prioritize your family, lover, close friends and important business contacts. Just make the gifts personal and remember that it’s still the thought that counts. Finish off with great packaging and a thoughtful handwritten note!
4. Credit is credit. The banks are not as forgiving as you think.
Yes, there are offers for 0% interest installment for up to 12 months and buy now and pay next year, among others. Again, keep your heart still. First off, your credit limit is still the same. So even if you’re going to pay just hundreds every month for 12 months, the entire amount is still slashed off your total credit limit. Same goes for the pay-next-year concept. Remember that credit is still a bill to be paid and if you’re going to miss out on one payment or on the deadline, the banks will be as giddy as Christmas to send you the late payment charge, print the interest out, or send off “finance charges” as an extra item on your bill. Be very careful.
5. Don’t touch your emergency fund and your savings fund.
I always say that one must have an emergency fund of at least 6 months of living allowance. This is in case a very unexpected expenditure is going to hit you. You must always have it ready. You can “borrow” from it if you need to (note: for EMERGENCIES) but keep the initial amount intact. And no, a bag or a gadget on sale is not an emergency. Also fight the temptation to touch your savings as you can use this for something more meaningful when the new year comes around.
6. Manage your feasts right.
There are always invitations to eat outside. You might find yourself checking in at expensive restaurants more often than you did for the entire year. Again, don’t get carried away. Aside from the huge mound of flab that will haunt you come January, a fine dining meal may also cost you 10x more than the regular yummy food you can have at home. Or in a cheaper homegrown resto. Eat at home when you can; use this time to bond with your family. Also, you can make good use of meal invitations…as long as you’re not spending. Haha! That’s also another way to save! After all, parties are everywhere! See, all it takes is a little “feast management”.
Do you feel more confident facing the season already? I hope you are! Hit me with more suggestions via the comment box! HAPPY HOLIDAYS! 🙂