Christmas is a challenging time for your wallet. It’s all too easy to drop serious dough on the festivities as you deck the halls and leave gifts under the tree. Add it all up, and your talents at the till can leave your wallet empty and your bank account hurting. If you’re worried you might get caught up by the commercial side to Christmas, you’re in luck! There’s still time to rein in your spending, so you can make merry without going broke.
You’re already off to a great start by acknowledging the problem. Now that you’re aware of it, you’re in a better position to break this habit and start a new, financially friendly one.
It won’t be easy — after all, spending is a natural part of the holidays — but by relying on the following tips, you can improve your chances of success.
1. Use a budget: It’s not enough to set an intention and believe you’ll follow through. Promising to spend less without looking at your finances is a sure-fire way to fail at your goal. You need to back up this promise with a budget. This financial tool can help quantify what ‘less’ looks to you by showing the difference between your income and your responsibilities, including what you contribute towards cash advance payments and credit card bills.
A budget offers a one-two punch to your finances:
First, you’ll know how much cash you have to work with after you’ve paid your responsibilities.
Second, by listing every expense, you’ll see all the ways you’re spending your money on unnecessary things. By targeting these purchases, you can spend less and save more.
2. Check your list, check it twice: A budget is something you usually leave at home, unless you’re using one of these money management apps — in which case, you’ll have it with you wherever you bring your phone. Your list, on the other hand, should never be left behind; it should always accompany you to the mall. It’s a guiding force that helps you avoid unnecessary items that do nothing but inflate your total at the till. Do whatever you must to make sure you bring this list with you any time you shop. Write it on a piece of paper you can fit into your wallet or save it as a note in your phone.
3. Stop using credit cards: A list isn’t totally infallible. When you’re used to spending, you may unthinkingly add something you don’t need to your cart and pay for it with a credit card. To sidestep this issue altogether, take the credit cards out of your wallet and shop with exact cash only, using your budget to figure out how much you need to withdraw for each shopping trip. While you’re at it, uninstall any mobile purchasing apps you may have on your phone.
4. Avoid temptations: Don’t underestimate this one. Though simple, it’s one of the best ways you can stop spending. Try to avoid situations, stores, or get-togethers that you know will be expensive.
5. Stay calm: Despite your best efforts to save, you can still end up splurging. If you realize you’ve spent too much and have nothing leftover in case an emergency bill or repair comes your way this winter, don’t panic. Failure doesn’t mean the money-saving game is over. It just might mean you’ll have to learn more about cash advance options in your area to help you cover bills while you recover. You may need to rely on family or friends for support as you get your finances under control. There’s always a solution — you just have to know where to look.
So take a deep breath. The important part is that you’re attempting to scale back this year. Whether it comes easily to you like your famous shortbread cookies or it’s a true challenge like a realistic Waddesdon Manor gingerbread house, it’s essential that you keep at it. Eventually, all your hard work will pay off in the form of happy finances.