By Catherine PateNovember 26, 2019
FORT SILL, OKLAHOMA, (Nov. 26, 2019) -- I am an accredited financial counselor helping Soldiers and their families become more financially fit by building a strong financial house. I often see financial foundations crumble and dreadful mistakes being made when it comes to the holidays and spending.
So, to start this planning for the holidays, look back to last year and try to remember the specific gifts you gave. Do you remember one or more gifts you gave last year for Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate? How about two? Three? You see, if you can't remember any or certain gifts you gave, do you think the people who received them will remember?
I'm not trying to take the joy out of giving. It is truly, I believe, the thought that is important -- the thought of caring and sharing, and celebrating life. I'm simply trying to point out that perhaps we put more pressure on ourselves than is needed. In a sense, this erodes some of the additional joy we could feel during the purchase. A guilt-free purchase is a wonderful thing. How do we do this? By first determining what we should spend, we take back our power and control of the situation. We don't let the holidays control us.
Here are some tips to help alleviate the holiday spending hangover.
First, discount what you spent last year by 30 percent. There are definite reasons to do this and I will explain later. Take the amount you spent last year and multiply it by 0.7. This gives you your holiday spending limit. You then need to prepare your "naughty or nice" list. These are your recipients of gifts. To get a baseline starting amount, divide the dollar amount by the number of recipients. Then, use a naughty/nice factor to adjust amounts accordingly. For example, Mom probably gets a bit of a more expensive gift than the mail carrier. This idea of making a list isn't new as Santa makes one to ensure he stays to his spending plan.
Second, when preparing for a shopping outing, always have snacks. Hunger can cause a lack of concentration and focus. This may make you hurry and want to deviate from your list and make impulse buys. If you're shopping with your children, consider packing a fun picnic lunch. If you have to eat out, splitting meals can help you stay more alert by not over eating. Also, know what restaurants have what specials on what days. (This is a handy tip for everyday outings.)
Third, shop discount, consignment, and thrift store opportunities. Talk with friends about ideas of how they frugally shop for the holidays. People love to give you their good ideas because we naturally want to help one another.
Fourth, spend out of discretionary income, cash, or savings (not from emergency funds). Avoid credit cards and store cards if possible. Try not to use payday lenders and finance companies, because they will cost you.
Don't overspend on your Christmas list, and you won't face a holiday spending hangover going through the pain of trying to figure out how to pay the bills.
As to the 30 percent discount, invariably there will be impulse buys, along with eating out, and the possibility of putting your purchases on a credit card. If you put $2,000 on your credit cards and you take a year to pay it off, it will cost you on average $2,600 for your Christmas gifts. That's 30 percent more than you had planned to spend. Thus, the magic of math.
I challenge you to take that 30 percent discount on your Christmas purchases this year. Have fun with it and make a game of it with yourself and your family. If you need help or would like an accountability partner, call 580-442-4916 and ask for Catherine or call 580-670-1932 for a confidential session. I can also be reached via email at PFC2.SILL.USA@zeiders.com.