You think saving is tough enough during the year and since you don’t have the time or energy to save money during the Christmas season, you’ll deal with it later – aka ‘tis the season to be spending?
If you just expect to sing the blues when those January bills come after your Christmas splurge…wait! You don’t have to, if you can keep your financial personality and planning on track, clean up a sloppy financial habit, and get a little creative.
Yes, saving in December is possible! Here are 4 action steps to let Christmas spending and giving bring out your best financial behavior, not your worst:
- Identify your unique holiday spending personality, using this checklist below:
What are your holiday patterns – Do you like to party hearty, give gifts, entertain, decorate, shop, wrap, bake/cook, or all of the above? Whether you work ahead or are the last-minute type, do you:
- Stick to a spending limit or leave it open-ended?
- Buy gifts for everyone who’s anyone?
- Spend time to find just the “right” gift for each recipient?
- Search for sales?
- Want to spend an equal amount on everyone?
- Want to be the best gifter, best baker, best host AND life of the party?
- Strive to “keep-up-with-the-Joneses” and have a mental checklist to do it?
- Find things for yourself as you’re looking for others?
- Make donations to almost any cause that asks?
- Get a thrill with random acts of kindness?
- After you have an idea how you spend, make a suitable budget.
Who needs a budget? Anyone who’s spending! In addition to buying gifts, earmark money for those unseen expenses, like:
- Extra groceries for entertaining and baking
- Hostess gifts
- Home decor
- Appearance (new outfit, accessories, manicure, dry cleaning)
- Eating out
- Unexpected (fresh flowers, express postage, special boxes)
Okay, you sort-of made a budget. What more is there?
- Planning ahead is everything!
Here are some ways planning can save you money – and headaches:
- Plan to make your money go farther – Check for sales on everything
- Plan to shop with a list – to stick to your budget
- Plan to use coupons and frequent shopper rewards
- Plan ATM/bank visits – to avoid fees
- Plan to not overdraw accounts – avoid overdraft penalties
Not planning your time costs you in ways you might shrug off. Remember things like:
- Snacks to eat – high-priced stops to curb hunger can bust a budget quickly
- Wrapping gifts – many retailers wrap for free if you have time to wait
- Shipping costs – avoid last-minute rush pricing, and ship direct if ordering on-line
- Grouping your shopping trips – Plan to use less gas and time
- Using cash – and avoid credit card fees in January
- Planning enough time so you aren’t rushing – Accidents cost too!
- Stress is a cost of not planning. (Can you avoid the last-minute panic, disappointment, fights, depression, stomachaches, overeating binges and the anticipated “January bills” stress?)
4. Creativity Counts…and might save you money too.
- Make some gifts – presents or presence??
- Learn a skill, share a skill.
- Magical touches – unique wrapping, cards, photos, surprises
- Collaborate with others – to bake, write cards, make crafts together.
- Make special memories – Party together, photo books, caroling
- Make TIME for someone – Call Mom (texting doesn’t count), do lunch
- Make a tradition (meet a friend and write Christmas cards together over coffee)
While he wasn’t specifically talking about Christmas, Ben Franklin would say….A penny saved is a penny earned!
Feel great about your holiday spending or some special finds? Tweet me @KidsMoney to share how you’re saving!