3 Tips To Avoid Overindulging In Holiday Spending
Author: Anthony Manganiello
It’s always smart to control your spending, especially during the holiday season. If you or others in your family are facing difficult times financially, perhaps from a job loss or wage cuts, it is especially important to spend less so you can have more money to pay essential bills or to add to a savings account you can tap in an emergency. Here are three simple strategies to help you avoid overindulging yourself financially while you’re preparing for Santa’s arrival.
Create A Spending Plan:
This one may seem obvious, but take a serious look at your current spending. If you don’t have one, think about creating a spending plan. Make a list of your monthly expenses and divide them into two groups — your “needs” and your “wants.” The needs are expenses that are absolutely necessary, such as your housing, utilities, clothes, food and transportation. The wants are optional purchases. Don’t allow this “budget”, however, to paint a false picture of your true financial condition. If you’re experiencing positive cash flow, it can provide a false sense of security. But that’s another story all together.
The bottom line is to create a plan for how much you’re going to spend on gifts, and stick to it. Too many people tend to just “go shopping” without a plan and get sucked into the allure of the season. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t – or can’t – enjoy your holiday experience. It just means you won’t wind up regretting it.
Create Internal Cash Flow:
You might be surprised at places where you can trim the fat in your spending, even if only temporarily. “After you differentiate between spending for needs and splurging on wants, cut back on the second category, especially if you’re already suffering an income loss or other financial hardship,” said Luke W. Reynolds, Chief of the FDIC’s Community Affairs Outreach Section. He said possible places to cut back on unnecessary spending include restaurant meals, monthly subscriptions, and premium TV channels. Cutting back in these areas can put a few extra bucks in your pocket to help satisfy your gift giving desires. If you do this only temporarily, you may discover that those premium channels (and other categories where you’ve cut back)
Also, consider opportunities to save on your necessities. Try carpooling or taking public transportation to work instead of driving by yourself. If you have multiple cars, see if you can live without one of them. Review your insurance coverage and see if there are areas of duplicate coverage. Check with your broker to be sure you’re not making yourself vulnerable. You want to ensure you’re not overpaying – but still remain covered appropriately.
Ask yourself if you really need that $224.99 pair of Jordan AJ XX9 basketball shoes – right now? Take better care of what you buy so it will last longer. And, make your own coffee at home. I like the feeling of having that Starbucks cup, so I spent an extra dollar to purchase one of their reusable cups (it looks just like the paper ones). It looks like I indulged, but no one knows the wiser. And consider bringing your lunch to work instead of eating out – even if it’s just a few days a week.
Go “Window Shopping” & Be A Deal Hawk:
When you decide on what gifts you want to buy, hit the web! These days it’s SO easy to find the best deal online. I call this the new era of “window shopping.” Instead of looking through the windows of stores, you’re looking through the window of your computer. You save on gas, time, and on the price of the things you want to buy.
Be sure to do this soon, though. The only potential drawback to finding good deals online is that you’ll have to wait for shipping. If you wait too long, you may either find yourself in a situation where the gift you wanted to buy is out of stock, or won’t arrive on time for the holiday.
Finally, don’t use your credit cards or other loan products to buy things you really can’t afford. If this creates less than positive emotions, then use those emotions to fuel a fire to be wiser next year. Realize that doing this now, and making the proper adjustments next year, your next Holiday Season will be better. And you’ll be able to experience an improved experienced without it costing you a small fortune.