A few years ago, I had noticed a trend. Liberally spending money begins in October, picks up in November, and is full-blown by December. I have several theories on why this happens: a bombardment of advertising to get me to spend, more activities and holidays to enjoy, and (lots of) gifts (for everyone) are a necessary part of the holidays, right?! Then January happens. It is winter. I can’t get outside to let loose some energy. In the past, I would just resume my shopping habit that I had been building for the past few months. Once January arrived, there was no more holiday money left and I was still in spending mode. It got hard to slow down, and that is where I usually ended up overextending myself financially. Honestly, I have really learned to budget for the holidays and can usually pay for them with money I have been saving. Here are some ways I’ve learned to slow my spending habits sooner.
I put money into “Funds” every pay period to pay for larger expenses: holidays, gifts, clothing, home, etc. This gives me some guidance as to how much I can spend.
I make a careful recording of how much I am spending from each Fund so I know exactly how much I have.
The only “credit card” I use is my Visa check card. This way I am no longer tempted to overspend. If I don’t have the money in a Fund, then I will not be buying it (at least not until I’ve saved for it).
I make a shopping list and try to stick to it.
I limit my trips to the grocery store to once a week. I try to avoid “shopping” anywhere unless I really have something I need. Studies show that EACH time one steps into a store of any kind, an average of $10 is spent on impulse items that had not been planned.
I try not to guess. I do a lot of planning: gifts, meals, trips to town. I consolidate and plan ahead when possible.
I don’t know what it is in this country that makes everyone want what everyone else has. It is sad to me how it affects us all. Though it is human nature to want to live comfortably, it is quite another thing to succumb to the internal pressure to get more and more and more.
I am daily trying to adopt these principles: Be satisfied, Do without, Make do, Wear it out!
How about you? Are you ready financially for the holiday season? If not, what will you try to do differently next year?