It’s that time of the year again when we are bombarded with messages enticing us to spend money, and the heat is on in terms of spoiling those nearest and dearest to us. So much expectation is created around this season – entertaining, socialising, gifting and more. While it’s a wonderful time to connect with family and friends, it’s also a very easy time to fall into the trap of over-spending, leaving a financial hangover to deal with as you enter the new year.
So what can one do to avoid this trap? A few tips to consider:
- Use your rewards or loyalty points that you have accumulated. Instead of using them regularly throughout the year, accumulate them so you can put them to good use during the festive season. Many retailers and banks offer these loyalty programmes – use them to your advantage.
- Don’t feel pressurised when it comes to giving gifts – if someone buys your children three presents each, don’t feel that you need to do the same. Stick to what you can afford.
- If you are spending the day with family or friends, rather go the Secret Santa route where each person buys one gift and receive one gift. It’s far cheaper than buying gifts for everyone.
- Avoid last minute shopping, or adding last minute people to your Christmas gift list. Work out upfront what you can afford to spend, and who you are buying for, and stick to that list. Don’t add to it as you go along as last minute shopping means you are stressed, rushed, and will probably spend more than you planned as you just want to get out of the shops!
- Consider doing your gift shopping online as it is far more controllable and there is virtually no impulse buying. You avoid the hype and ‘spend, spend, spend’ atmosphere in the shops and can control the amount that you are spending. I love this aspect of online shopping – you can see how much you have spent at any point, and before you actually checkout and pay.
- How about making personalised hand-made gifts? How often haven’t you heard someone say, “What do I buy for them, they have everything.”? Often our lives overflow with material things and a simple gift such as a pretty box of homemade crunchies is highly appreciated.
- Another thought for those people “that have everything” – how about a voucher for a massage or facial or even a dinner or picnic outing? Experiences, not stuff, brings us happiness – it’s been proven by science.
- Don’t be a snob when it comes to where you shop – sometimes antique or second hand shops have lovely items for a fraction of the price that you would pay in a more expensive shop.
- Draw up a budget for your planned spending on gifts and other luxury items over the festive season, and stick to it. Do not buy on credit – spend only what you have available to spend. Avoid incurring any kind of debt just to get through.
- If you have planned in advance, you could have taken advantage of some great special offers during the year and your gift shopping would be sorted. If you didn’t do that this year, start in January and plan for the next festive season. Start new habits in 2020.
Don’t let the festive season leave you feeling like you have spent all your time fighting through crowds of shoppers and spending money like water. It’s a time to relax with loved ones and friends. Plan your shopping and make sure that it’s an enjoyable and stress free time of year.
Most of all, ensure that you will not have any nasty financial surprises waiting for you as you go into 2020. The new year will bring new challenges, as it always does, and the festive season of 2019 will be a feint memory. A good one, hopefully, but also one that doesn’t leave you with a massive bag of financial baggage that you need to drag with you into the new year!