There is ample research to show that December is by far the most financially stressful time of the year for most people. Spending pressure is more emotionally charged than almost any other time of the year.
Luckily, December need not be all doom and gloom for your wallet. Like many situations that seem at first glance insane, it just requires a plan.
Here are our top tips to get you through the festive season without major money haemorrhage:
Step 1: Calculate exactly how much you’ve got
Unless you have it in writing or in your bank account, this does not include that Christmas bonus. This includes how much funds you have… until the end of January.
The trick to getting through December is not to just think up until the 25th but, rather, look at the fact that you will likely be receiving your next salary only 30 days after that. When do school fees need to be in by? What about buying back-to-school stationery with the same pay check that you will be using for present shopping?
While this may sound like a sure-fire way to get even more stressed about December, it’s the opposite. It allows you to cap your spending in December so that you still have enough for January.
Step 2: It’s the thought that counts
Little things add up when it comes to actual Christmas, and to the rest of ‘ki Dezember boss’ and ‘Januworry’ too. Try think of exactly what food and household items you’ll need to get you through both months and buy them in bulk. This follows on comfortably from the first tip – when you know how much you have to work with, you can be savvy with what you have.
Take a long hard look at your diary and consider investing, along with your family, time over the next few weeks to hand-craft what you can. That may mean homemade wrapping paper or less pies from Woolworths. Either way, it adds up.
Also, don’t underestimate the value of just asking someone what they want for Christmas. It may be a lot less expensive than the thing you were eyeing that you thought they’d love.
Step 3: Avoid December debt
Always try to avoid borrowing money to spend money. That includes December groceries and overspending on things you really don’t need or have space for. If you find yourself in serious financial straits, see if there is a temporary loan you can get from a loved one instead. Anything but bad debt.
Step 4: Put it away instead
It almost seems like money is made for spending when it comes to December, but if you have carefully budgeted, you might be able to have some extra cash to save.
Whether that means squirreling it into an emergency fund, topping up some of your investments or putting it into your retirement annuity, make sure it goes into a safe place. Unaccounted-for money has the tendency to disappear into mindless sending at the best of times, and December is the worst of times when it comes to that.
If you follow all of these tips, there’s no reason why you and your finances shouldn’t be more jolly this December. Ho ho ho!