How to Plan Your Finances This Festive Season
From the nine-fiver who puts in extra hours at work for an overtime payout to the business owner who sits down with his accountant to understand how he can make allowances for that thoughtful present for his loved ones, the festive season is marked poignantly with the alternations between celebrations and the anguish of being able to afford such celebrations. Emotional connections established during the holiday season when friends and families come together sweetly coercing us into stepping beyond our financial limits to indulge in generous gifting. But should the festive season really have to burn a hole in our pockets?
No! And I am not talking about limiting our healthy splurge on buying presents for ourselves and our loved ones. Planning ahead does the magic. If you think it’s too early to plan for Christmas, I am going to tell you it probably is a little late. When you are more conscious of your financial planning for the festive season, you will be able to step into the New Year without suffering from a major spending hangover. Planning will also make it easier to RSVP an exciting “Yes” to our friends’ festive get-togethers, and Christmas shopping will be that much more gratifying.
There really is nothing like getting ahead to help us to keep our bank balance and festive checklist in order. Because as much as we may want to drown our fears in that glass of wine, our bank balance continues to remind us how important it is to plan ahead so that celebrations don’t come at the cost of our emotional health. I’ve known people who have been down this path, and to ensure that you are able to enjoy the holiday season, I am going to share some of my financial planning tips that work like a charm.
#1 Santa’s not the only one who needs to make a list
We live by so many lists, that if I were to go on, I would probably end up making a list of the lists I live by… and yet making a list for the festive season seems odd to most people. A comprehensive list is my first step towards planning my potential spending needs, and my advice would be to list out all of the people you are going to be buying presents for; to make things easy use a note app or spreadsheet.
I also find it particularly useful to assign an approximate amount of money that I will be spending next to each name on my list. Remember to keep these numbers as close to your actual financial standing and be as honest as you can about your expenditure. Another pointer would be to jot down what you may want to get for each person, alongside the respective person’s name, on your list. This list will serve as one of the most helpful tools when you go out shopping.
#2 Decide on your budget
After you’ve chosen who you’re purchasing presents for, the next thing on the agenda is to create an overall budget based on what you anticipate spending over the entire festive season. The list you made earlier is a reference point for part of your expenses, but there is so much more to festive celebrations than gifting. You will be shopping for yourself, and then there are other bills and outgoings to accommodate. Additionally figure out what events you will be attending or hosting and prepare a budget for your potential expenses
The secret to making your budget work for you is to ensure that you slightly over-allocate your expenses. And when its time, make sure that you spend within the assigned expenses instead of going over them. The additional money can be kept as buffer for things that you may have forgotten.
# 3 Reward yourself through offers
Sometimes, the whole idea of gifting and giving becomes so overwhelming that we put ourselves right at the bottom of the list; spending on ourselves only if our budget will allow us to do so. I feel that if we begin early and find the right offers when we go shopping, we may end up saving more than we thought. There are many ways in which you can take advantage of festive offers at different stores.
While you are shopping online, you can look for cash back offers. Then there are discount vouchers and credit card reward points to think of too. Your reward points can be converted into vouchers that can be used crosswise over numerous online or brick and mortar stores. By being able to save through these offers, you will be able to enjoy your spending sans guilt.
#4 Set up a Bank Account
It is also a smart thought to set up a savings account called “Festive Season” to isolate the funds – as it’s never too late to set some money aside to help in December. It will keep your spending in check and help you keep track of your actual budget without mixing personal and everyday expenses with your festive expenses.
A separate bank account will also help in building your budget over a period of time. By transferring small amounts of money as and when it is available to this account, you will ensure that you can smoothly build your budget in the weeks coming up to Christmas so that you can enjoy the season without feeling that you’re going overboard because you’ve already allocated the funds.
#5 Christmas time!
Time plays its mischief in our minds as the same duration that would feel infinite transforms into the blink of an eye. Christmas brings in so much to cherish and enjoy that we don’t realize how quickly days turn into long nights of celebrations and work leads to a round of drinks with your co-workers and soon you have to make time for decorations that make your home look festive only to realize that you don’t have enough time on hand.
Schedule your celebrations by planning dinner dates and Christmas drinks in advance. Knowing the dates on which you are available will help you decide if you can say “yes” if anything spontaneous pops up.
And because schedules are the topic of discussion, I’d like to add that now is the right time to book tickets for flights and trains if you are going to be travelling over the festive period to see friends and family. Rates often tend to shoot up closer to the date of your travels and planning now will help you save some.
#6 New Year is also round the corner
Christmas celebrations keep us so busy, that it’s easy to forget that January is right around the corner too. And with the dawn of the New Year, realizations hit too quickly that finances are somewhat stretched and that you may have to tighten your purse strings even for daily expenses.
In my opinion it’s always better to consider your expenses for January and February and plan for this time too, so that you can start 2018 feeling prepared. Ensure that you enjoy the holiday season and secure yourself financially by setting aside time to plan ahead.
I hope that this festive season brings joy to you and your loved ones. With these tips to help you, the season will bring fewer anxieties and stress-free celebrations your way.