By Judy M. McCutcheon MBA
I first wrote this article about three years ago and it’s still relevant today. So, I thought I’d update it to help to remind you of some principles that we tend to throw out the door during the holiday season. Christmas is my favourite time of year, I am like a kid in a candy store, in my mind Santa Claus does exist and he’s indeed making a list and checking it twice. How many of us will make a list and actually use it this holiday season? It’s Christmas, the season designated as the season of giving, even though I think every day should be giving day. We get all warm and fuzzy inside and we just want to spend, spend, and spend. It’s a time when we get liberal with our money and credit cards. Those Christmas sales just jump out at us. Some of us literally think that we are Santa Claus and so we believe that we must give a gift to everyone. Not so Rudolph.
We must direct that inner-child during this season if we hope to make it through the first few months of the New Year with our bank account and our credit intact. It is important that we maintain a budget during the holiday season. This is not the time to throw all your hard work at saving out the window. I have found that if you begin budgeting for Christmas from the beginning of the year, it’s so much easier, you can get all the things you want because you would have budgeted for them. However, if you don’t have a budget for the holidays there are still ways that you can still have an enjoyable time and not break the bank.
There is this “thing” and I am not sure if it’s cultural or not, but every Christmas people find it necessary to replace all the furnishings in their home, along with the curtains; and the worst part is that some people take a loan to get this done. It is important that you pay careful attention to those loan sales offered by financial institutions at this time of the year. You should not be taking a loan for consumables, especially at Christmas time. Then there are those hire purchase plans, and you might think that you are getting a deal, but in fact, you are better off to save your money and buy the item cash.
Some Christmas Smarts:
· Shop during the year: – I know the time has passed for this, but it is something worth remembering as we go into the new year. As you go shopping there will be items that you can buy at a reduced price that will make great Christmas gifts, buy them, and start storing up for the next season.
· Clearance sales: – Oh! These sales are so wonderful, especially right after Christmas. You will find great deals on potential gifts and decorations. Shopping this way can help you take care of most of your Christmas shopping for the following year.
· Limit the amount of gift giving: – remember the reason for the season and reduce the number of gifts that you give. One Idea might be to give only the children or if you have a large family you might do a gift exchange.
· Forget about cards: – You can skip the Christmas cards. If you absolutely must send a card, send an electronic one. I have a friend who writes a Christmas letter and he always includes a picture of his family in that letter. A great way to let people know what has happened to you and your family during the year. Best of all it’s free!
Remember, it is not necessary for you to change your furnishings every year; you can save that money towards your retirement, your child’s education or for the proverbial rainy day. Experience has shown that during the holiday season people tend not to want to think about planning. Let me just remind you that disasters and unexpected events don’t take a holiday when you do. Don’t put your plans on the shelf because ‘tis the season to be merry.’ You have a responsibility to your family no matter the occasion.
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Judy McCutcheon is a partner in the firm Go Blue Inc, a Human Development Company. www.goblueinc.net