It’s that time of year when the kids are back at school, the summer holidays are already starting to become a distant memory and Christmas is starting to blur into Christmases of years gone by.
In theory at least, life is getting back to normal. If, though, your Christmas was paid for on plastic, there’s probably nothing normal about the credit card bill or bills you are receiving about now. They can make for a stressful start to the year and have you wondering whether you will ever manage to break out of a relentless cycle of high-interest debt. By taking a holistic approach, though, it is possible to work out a plan for repaying debt and, beyond that, planning for high-cost times of the year, such that they don’t need to be associated with high financial pressure.
Holistic because it’s important to look at all the ingredients which make up your financial life – not just those big ticket items. By taking into account all income and all outgoings and the dates that money comes in and money goes out, it’s possible to engineer the flow of your funds ahead of time, to ensure that there is enough for everything – and not just for Santa!
Constantly making decisions about the present is a reactive, stressful way to manage your finances – and live your life – in which your credit card bills leave you feeling battered and bruised. Making decisions about the future, though, is proactive and empowering such that, when a future financial commitment does eventually become present tense, it has long since being dealt with. The power is in the future. The power is in the planning. The peace of mind you feel then comes to define your present.
It’s never too late to go from being passive and reactive to proactive and empowered. You don’t need to be born good with money or with a silver spoon in your mouth. Just like anything in life, you can become good with money by having the will to do so and combining that will with some solid know-how. That iron will often springs from a sense of having had your fill of the status quo – a determination that your Christmas hangover in February 2018 will be your last.
After a few handy hints for Christmas gift shopping? Check these out…
The $5 savings challenge
The $5 savings challenge is a fun and creative way to save a little more money over the course of the year and you really won’t notice it’s gone! In this challenge, whenever a $5 note comes into your possession, you must put it aside (in a special jar or tin – preferably one you can’t open easily!). By the end of the year, you will be surprised how many $5 notes you’ll have saved. The $5 challenge has become an increasingly popular one – because we often come across a them frequently and because it’s an amount that not so significant that you’ll really feel it when you hide it away – making it much easier to pop in the tin and save compared to a $50 note! This challenge is a great way to save for Christmas gifts and if you do it with someone (eg. challenge a friend or join forces with your partner) this can be something that is not only effective, but fun!
Buy in advance
This one is easy! During the year, keep an eye out for bargains and sales that will pay off come Christmas time – literally! Check out sales, 2 for 1 deals and savings coupons that will allow you to purchase gifts for people so you can put them away in storage where they can be gifted once Christmas rolls around. A cupboard full of various gifts stored away makes it much less stressful than rushing around during the December madness trying to find presents for teachers, neighbours and your Great Aunt Penny! And if you’re worried about purchasing for children, who seem to change their mind weekly on the things they really really need (and often grow so much in 12 months that their tastes change accordingly) then purchasing gift cards for various stores throughout the year means you can approach Christmas with a wallet full of plastic that won’t put you in debt! Using gift cards accumulated throughout the year to assist with the cost of presents when it comes to Christmas shopping, means you won’t feel the hit to your budget quite as much.
As much as many of us enjoy spoiling our loved ones with special gifts to treasure, Christmas can become overwhelming when you’re buying for almost everyone you know! To ensure those ‘smaller gifts’ don’t break the budget (because let’s be honest, when buying for so many people they often can) instead try crafting handmade gifts that are generally much cheaper to make and are that little bit more special when made with love! People often turn to Pinterest to get inspiration on creating thoughtful homemade gifts that people love – such as candles, body butters or bath salts, jewellery, scarves or blankets, soaps, succulent pots, drink coasters, pillows, personalised mugs, homemade sweets (such as brownies or fudge!), bibs and headbands, wall art… The list goes on!