It’s no surprise that Christmas is one of the most expensive times of the year. Holiday expenses add up quickly and when faced with the purchasing pressures of the season many people end up in the red. To help prevent you from drowning in debt we’ve identified 12 ways to avoid a Christmas financial crisis.
1. Assess Your Finances and Create a Budget
Ensure you understand your financial situation, accounting for all available funds and outstanding debt. After analyzing your finances, make a budget to account for all anticipated Christmas expenses.
2. Don’t Count on Your Bonus
While many employers aim to distribute Christmas Bonus, a bonus is never a sure thing until you’ve received the funds. In some instances, there may be no bonus at all. For this reason, it’s important not to factor your bonus into your Christmas spending budget. Rather, unexpected income such a bonus should be set aside for future savings or allocated to more long-term financial goals, such as saving for a new home.
3. Avoid Committing to Projects based on the Promise of Money
Don’t begin Christmas projects, such as home renovations, if you’re not certain you will have the incoming cash flow to see this project through to completion. For instance, a relative may promise to send funds, however if they aren’t able to fulfil their promise, you can be left in debt when it’s time to pay the construction team. Instead, focus on confirmed financial commitments such as approved loans or a maturing fixed deposit.
4. Have an Emergency Fund or Medical Insurance
Just because it’s Christmas, doesn’t mean the risk of accidents or ailments goes away. In the midst of the shopping, holiday preparations and gatherings, it’s vital to plan for the unexpected. Should you or a relative need to visit the doctor or be taken to the Emergency Room, it’s pertinent you have cash on hand or medical insurance to cover the bill.
5. Have a “No Debt” Goal
Avoid racking up debt that you’ll carry into the new year. While it’s tempting in the excitement of the season to get carried away with shopping and partying, remind yourself that the season is only temporary and when it comes to an end, you want to be proud of your financial standing and not overwhelmed in debt. That means avoiding taking on high-interest unsecured loans or charging purchases to your credit card.
Take great care of your car and household appliances and service them when necessary so they stay in good working condition. The last thing you need is for them to fail you when you need them most during the hustle and bustle of Christmas. Ensure that they’re up to the task so you don’t end up spending money unexpectedly on expensive replacements.
7. Planning and Tracking
Make lists for everything you intend to purchase and don’t deviate from them. This eliminates impromptu purchases which you may regret later. Next, diligently track your spending and keep tally of where you are in relation to your predetermined budget.
8. Support Local
Instead of pricey foreign goods, invest in more cost-effective options from local businesses. From groceries to gifts, this goes a long way and can cycle around to support people you know and love.
9. Make It Yourself
Explore making things instead of buying them. Whether it’s a decorative centerpiece for your dining table, or a hamper of baked goods as a gift, your options are as abundant as your creativity. For example, instead of buying wrapping paper, use old magazines or recycled materials, benefiting your wallet and the environment.
10. Don’t Do It Alone
Enlist the support of family and friends to stay on track. As a bonus, you’re promoting wise financial habits that last beyond the Season. Let them know you’re prioritizing memories instead of material possessions. You may find it even easier to stand behind these budget-friendly choices!
11. Charitable Donations
As it’s a season for giving, you may have charities in mind which you intend to support. Account for this in your budget since it represents a cash outflow. Additionally, if you’re stumped on what to get someone, consider donating to charity in their name rather than buying a traditional present. Touching the lives of others is priceless.
12. Learn When to Decline Invitations
Christmas comes with expectations to attend family gatherings, school or work fundraisers and social events which brings a burden on your wallet to contribute to these functions. Be selective, perhaps choosing only one parang party and focusing on the most well-attended family functions, will help keep your money in check. Always remain focused on your goal of being financially secure and don’t allow social obligations to derail your plans.