The Christmas Season is once again almost upon us as we see the tell-tale signs of decorations being hung and hear intermittent seasonal music playing when travelling around. You think to yourself that Christmas seems to be coming quicker every year, but there is still plenty of time to prepare for the big day. However, if you are like many other procrastinators, that big day will quickly sneak up on you while you hear about a few others that you have prepared well in advance. So the questions start racing through your head about who you have to buy gifts for and of course what to buy for them. But there is still the big question of how you are going to pay for it all if you didn’t plan ahead and save enough to cover your annual Christmas expenses. If this happens to be your present (no pun intended – lol) situation we have some tips to get you through this season and advice on how to avoid being the Grinch next season with some advanced planning.
- Determine your gift budget – say if you have $500 (money that you can realistically can afford to spend) to spend on gifts this year – draft a list people you plan on buying for. Then next to each person’s name write the amount you plan on spending until your budget has been fully allocated among all the names on your list. And remember when you start shopping to stick with your initial budget for each person and don’t over spend with money you don’t have.
- Always pay in cash – after determining your gift budget, withdrawal the budgeted amount in cash from your bank account. Remember to stick with your budgeted amount for each person on your list, and once the money is fully spent your shopping is done. Avoid any emotional spending on love ones as this will easily lead to overspending and after Christmas credit card bill.
- Always shop alone – by shopping alone you will maintain focus on your budget. In addition, you will avoid any pressures to purchase unnecessary items or any impulse buying which will lead to overspending and the dreaded post-Christmas credit card bill.
- Make some of your gifts – not everything has to come from a store, so get creative and put together gift baskets with home baked goods, crafts, etc. This is not only cost effective but you can turn into a fun family project by having everyone involved.
- Cut out unnecessary items – there are plenty of things that can be a waste of time such as ribbons, bows, fancy tape, stickers etc. as they are just thrown away in the end.
Well assuming that you will survive this Christmas season it is also time to start thinking and preparing for next year’s, as December 25th is on the calendar every year.
- Determine Christmas budget in advance – Once you have determined your budget for next Christmas, open up a new savings account for this specific purpose only. Then divide your budgeted amount of say $600 by 12 which gives $50, that is the amount you will deposit in the savings account every month until next Christmas to avoid another budget fiasco.
- Post-Christmas sales – be one to watch for Boxing Day clearance sales where gift wrap, box, cards etc. are being cleared out at a fraction of the pre-Christmas price. There is no need to wait until next Christmas as you already know you will need these supplies again.
- Start shopping early – when you are against a tight deadline it is easy to overspend, by shopping year round you can find the best deals making your shopping budget go further.
We hope the information discussed has been informative and that you will avoid the Christmas Hangover when the credit card bill arrives in January. However, we at Allan Marshall & Associates Inc. are always available free of charge to discuss any matters dealing with your credit and debt. Please visit us at www.wecanhelp.ca or don’t hesitate to call us at 1-888-371-8900.