And so, the holidays are here and we are all excited. For some of us the holidays are an exciting period of fun, family and festivities. Some of us receive gifts, and of course the kids receive presents. We give gifts to our parents, our godchildren, bosses, co-workers, pastors.
We also give gifts to charities, churches, and missions in faraway lands. Some of us even participate in secret- Santa’s, gift exchanges and gift auctions. Then, we realize that we have not even bought ourselves a Christmas gift and away we go again to the mall, or Amazon and begin to look for the perfect gift for ourselves. And finally, we buy presents for our pets.
All these presents, and purchases come from the same budget or paycheck that has not changed for the past year. So, the question then becomes how does one go through the Christmas holiday season without breaking the bank?
The truth is that all the holiday buying and spending takes a major toll. To make matters worse, we are severely inundated with all the holiday advertisements on the television, radio and billboards. So, no questions asked, the urge to buy and buy and spend is there. You would almost be a robot to ignore the need to give a gift and to expect one in return. Its is important to be determined and intentional about ones finances. Learn from your past don’t repeat the same pattern if it is not helping you.
- HAVE A BUDGET – you may have heard it a million times and think that budgets and budgeting are not important.The key to a successful budget is to stick to it. Make sure you write a proper list of what you need to buy, those you need to bless, gifts you need to buy. It is also important to do a budget for the Christmas meal, if you would be entertaining a lot of guests. Then do the needful. We need to remember that there is life after the holidays, and that depression is real. Be honest with yourself, and if you can’t afford much don’t stress yourself. It is ok to tell the children that there is no money for that PS5 or Nintendo Switch.
- BUY CREATIVE GIFTS – I am learning to see that my finances are finite. For example, I would rather pay for an extracurricular activity class for my child or buy a gym membership for my partner as a gift than buy a gift and still have to pay for the membership.
- SETTING PRICE LIMITS – For all those pesky holiday gift swaps, that you may be dragged into, you may decide to set a price limit. I have found lovely gifts at Costco for less than $20. Decide in advance what your gift giving budget is.
- CREDIT CARDS – I advise avoiding using credit cards altogether. Adopt the mantra, cash is king. As much as you can, only use the cash that you have and make a point not to rack up credit card debts. FYI, it takes about 3 years to payoff a $2000 balance on a credit card making $100 payments monthly. Plan yourself accordingly. If cash is a problem, consider picking up additional work like Insta-cart and skip the dishes. These services are always looking for additional drivers during the holidays.
- MENTAL HEALTH – Think mental health. Think about your mental health after the holidays and let that guide you when you plan your holiday finances. Don’t do anything that would put additional strain when the new year starts.
In conclusion, plan for your financial success.
Have a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous new year.
Tayo Elnathan is the Executive Director of LCCMedia Foundation. She writes a weekly column for LCCMediaFoundation.