Don’t let excessive holiday spending turn your winter into a humbug.
- First, a mindset. Your holidays don’t have to be perfect. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to make things perfect—to create perfect experiences, perfect dates, perfect parties; to find the perfect tree, the perfect gift, the perfect this and that. The cost is too great, mentally and financially. You know the feeling.
Instead, consider adopting an attitude of enough. Find joy in what you already have. Slow down and enjoy as much of it as you can. The baking, the decorating, the music, the movies, the snowball fights, the company. The simplest meal can become a feast if you truly appreciate and enjoy it. Try it!
It doesn’t cost anything to delight in life. Just be intentional about not taking things for granted. Besides, the best presents often end up being the simplest anyway. Your holidays don’t have to be perfect to be awesome.
Good? Good. Now let’s game plan.
- Know your budget. You probably know this refrain as well as you know “Jingle Bells,” but this advice is repeated so often because it’s fundamental. Know how much money you have available to spend, and don’t go beyond that. If you want a bigger budget, you’ll either need to bring in more money (part-time holiday work, anyone?) or cut some of your expenses for a month or two (do you really need those five streaming services?).
- Create a debt repayment plan for the new year. Don’t be like the 25% of Americans who are still paying off debt from last year’s holiday shopping. If you have debt, a good New Year’s resolution would be to eliminate it as swiftly and methodically as possible. No one likes carrying around extra pounds. Here are some suggestions:
Reduce interest payments. Take advantage of limited time offers from credit unions or other financial institutions. Interest adds up. It’s amazing how much you’ll save with interest-free offers.
Trim costs. Again, an easy way to save is to go without. The key to trimming costs is to know your budget. If you don’t account for your dollars, they’ll disappear on you.
Attack debts. There are many approaches, like Dave Ramsey’s snowball debt reduction.
Find a financial coach. Financial institutions and credit unions usually have financial coaches available if you’re willing to schedule an appointment. If that’s too formal for you, consider finding a mentor who you know and trust and who is a good steward of their finances who you can talk to, ask questions, and learn from.
- Start planning for next year. How does the saying go? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? All that means is that planning ahead will save you a big headache down the road. The same concept applies to your financial planning. If you’ve followed the steps so far, you have created a budget and are actively paying down debt. The good habits you have built up to this point will serve you well as you prepare for the next holiday season. Just know your budget and save for it.
If you need a little more support staying disciplined in your saving habits, you can utilize our Pick Your Payout savings account. You already know how much you spent this holiday, right? Establish that same dollar amount as your goal, and then set aside a little each week, paycheck, or month to keep it locked away until a certain date, such as November 1. That way, you are less tempted to dip into your holiday savings throughout the year. Out of sight, out of mind. Come November 1—viola!—there’s your holiday budget, untouched and ready to be spent.
The good habits you build this year and next can be the foundation of stress-free, holiday bliss for years to come. Why wait?