‘Tis the season to be spendy fa la la la la la la la la… or not! 2020 hasn’t been the best year and as we’ll be celebrating a very Covid Christmas, it’s easy to get carried away with the spending this time of year.
Here are a few tips to keep your finances in the green and prevent a financial hangover into 2021!
#1 Make a list and check it twice
Just like Santa, make a list and check it twice. And by list, we mean plan out all the gifts, food, decorations and whatnot that you’d like to buy for Christmas. Much like a naughty and nice list, write down who you’d like to gift something to and also what you have in mind for them.
Once you’ve drawn up your ‘Naughty & Nice’ list, determine how much you’d like to spend on each recipient and then tally up how much you need. Remember to budget extra on shipping especially since a lot of us are buying online these days. Other things to note include how much you’re willing to spend on food and decorations which could add up because some food items are seasonal and may be more expensive.
Pro tip: Stock up on non-perishables during off peak season when they’re much cheaper and just whip them out on Christmas. For food, getting certain items earlier and freezing them is an option as well.
#2 On Budget, On Sinking Fund, On Online Sales!
After you’ve determined how much you’d like to spend for Christmas gift-giving and merry making, it’s time to plan a Christmas sinking fund. Tally up your total spending and break it down into bite-sized goals. For example, if you’d like to go low and slow, start in January so you’ll have 12 months to save up for Christmas. Divide your total budget by 12 and save that amount every month, leading up to December.
In addition to a sinking fund, start looking online for deals on gifts a month or two earlier to make sure you receive the item on time while getting the best bang for your buck. Take advantage of 11.11 or 12.12 sales but do keep in mind that if you shop the 12.12 sales, your package may arrive after Christmas.
| Related: Best credit cards for Christmas shopping |
During this season of sales, be mindful of marketing ploys such as free delivery if you buy over a certain amount. Although it is tempting, do you really need all that extra stuff? Remember that the sellers’ goal is to get you to spend money but yours is to look after your money and spend it wisely.
#3 Mind your spending!
You stumbled upon a bargain, but do you really need it? Although it is a bargain, it’s still money spent which might break your budget! Impulse buying could put a dent in your Christmas budget and then you might not be able to have enough to buy something that you really need or want. If you’re really torn on buying something, sleep on it. Put the item in your cart and leave it there for 24 hours. In that 24 hours, you can think about it, try to find it at a better price, or even better, forget about it.
When you’re choosing a gift for someone, think about whether the gift you’re getting is something that the person really wants. There’s no harm in asking what your friend or family member wants. If you’d like to surprise them, perhaps ask their spouse or someone close to gauge what they’d like. Make your gift both meaningful and useful to them to prevent any wastage. The same goes for yourself. If you feel like what you’re buying is something short lived like say Christmas themed tableware that you’d be embarrassed to use any other time of the year, it’s better to choose a set that you can use all year round.
| See also: 5 ways to prevent credit card fraud this holiday season |
#4 Avoid debt!
If you have credit card debt, perhaps having a spendy Christmas isn’t the best idea. Settle your debt before the festive season as a Christmas gift to yourself! On the other hand, don’t fall into the trap of ‘buy now pay later’ with ‘0% instalments’ offered by various sellers at this time. Christmas time is a time for joy and debt brings anything but.
If you’re a bit last minute and only thought of this in December itself, check your Christmas budget and see if there’s room in your monthly spending for it. Some of us may be going through a hard time so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not able to spend as much as other people can. Remember, don’t go into debt just to please others. Keep your eyes on the prize: your financial goals. Besides, there’s always next year!
Christmas is a joyous and for some, spendy time of the year. Drawing up a naughty and nice list along with budgeting and shopping online sales are great ways to make sure your finances will be in the green the following year!