These daily financial tips are designed to be short ideas covering different aspects of family and business finances. They are short pieces intended to provide information to enable individuals, families and businesses to make informed financial decisions. Not all tips will apply to every situation, but over the course of a year, most financial topics will be covered. Check in regularly and share with friends and associates.
I recently saw a video post by a friend who was discussing the anxiety and challenges that the Christmas and holiday season brought her. Instead of being able to enjoy and celebrate the season, she dreaded the shopping demands that the season brought. This is true for many people. Sadly, the holidays, December in particular, are the peak season for suicides as people struggle with what they perceive to be demands and pressures, both personal and financial. The two are often related. I will focus on some strategies below to try and mitigate some of the financial pressures the holidays bring.
Firstly, focus the holidays on celebrating family, health, and experiences, not tangible possessions. For Christians, Christmas is the story of the birth of Christ in a modest manger. Santa and all the material trappings of Christmas are a marketer and retailers dream. Christmas and the holidays have become the number one shopping period and often the make or break period for many retailers, so sophisticated marketing strategies to have consumers buy abound. Focusing on family experiences such as enjoying the many festivals, light shows, church and choral/musical celebrations serve to both bring families together and limit or reduce the compulsion to spend. Perhaps look to donate time and energies to charities to support those less fortunate in your community. Instead of giving gifts, donate to charities instead and let family, friends, etc know that a charitable gift was given in lieu of a gift.
Back to Day 1 and Day 3 financial tips, have a plan or strategy for your holiday spending. Establish/set a budget for your holiday spending in advance and stick to it. Share the budget expectations with other family members so everyone knows what the boundaries are. Much like office gift giving which often have limits for ‘secret Santa’ gift giving, do the same for your own family. Do not feel obligated to share gifts, etc with extended family and acquaintances or neighbours, and perhaps let them know so they don’t feel the need to reciprocate.
The shopping experience during the holidays is frantic and chaotic at best. From trying to find a parking spot, to long check out line ups, etc. All this creates frustration and a sense of urgency which increases the likelihood of impulse buying and spending more than intended. Instead of going to a mall, shop online. Shopping online can be done in the calm of your own home, at a time convenient to you, allows you to easily comparison shop for the best deals and increases the likelihood of staying in budget. Just be ware to shop early enough to allow time for delivery during this peak season.
If using or buying gift cards, make sure there are not limitations and service fees/charges associated with the gift card. Many gift cards will be limited to certain retailers, may have expiry dates, may have service charges and fees which diminish the value of the card.
These are only a few ideas. Focus the Christmas and holiday season on creating joyous family experiences. Plan ahead and set expectations for gift giving to stay within budget and alleviate financial pressures and the likelihood of impulse buying and overspending. Share these ideas with friends and family and come back to check out daily financial tips and ideas. If there are subjects you wish covered or questions, please email me and I’ll include them in future posts.