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by Marc Rouleau
Time seems to fly at this time of year. One minute we are raking leaves, taking fall hikes, and enjoying the warm sun on our face and the next we are putting snow tires on the car, breaking out the toques, boots and warm sweaters and shoveling snow. The transition to winter brings a whole new set of tasks with less day light available to get them done. And we know that Christmas is right around the corner.
Usually well before the first snow flies in November, we hear Christmas music, see people putting up their decorations and many get invitations to various events. The retail industry cranks it up for their busiest and most profitable season of the year. Everything seems to be on sale at every corner! More flyers arrive both in our mailboxes, more ads circulate when we are online and more T.V. commercials prompt us to include a toy or gizmo on our gift list. The marketing minds are working overtime to make sure they entice people to spend more than they did last year. Often, more than they can afford.
It’s not easy being disciplined in this environment. It’s not easy to ignore the ads. You owe it to yourself not to overspend because you work hard for your money. Along with a dose of discipline, you need a plan.
Here a few tips that should prevent you from waking up in January with a credit hangover:
- What’s your magic number? Do the math to know how much you can afford to spend on Holiday related items: gifts, travel and lodging to visit out of town relatives, attending or hosting events with work, friends. Once you have your spending limit, stick to it.
- Make a list. You won’t get away from this one. Allocate your spending limit to the people, causes and events on your list: family, friends, neighborhood businesses, charities.
- Spend time vs. money. It’s not all about the gifts. Spending time with friends and family is always going to rank above gifts.
- Go shopping first thing in the morning. No crowds, no lineups, shelves are stocked, cashiers are generally in a good mood. Also, you will be more disciplined when you are well rested.
- Worry about what other people are doing/spending. You don’t know their financial situation. The may have excessive debt. In the end, be happy with what you can afford to give.
- Go shopping without your list. Marketing, sales, music will make you ‘’get in the spirit of giving’’ and spend more than you can afford. Stick to the plan (your list).
- Buy for people who aren’t on your list. Don’t feel guilty about not buying for everyone you know. You are missing the point if you do. Be gracious if you receive a gift but don’t feel like you must buy something in return.
- Increase the limit on your credit cards. A limit is set for a reason: know your limit and spend within it. You will have to pay the bills when they come in next year.
Many will unfortunately overextend themselves this Christmas by buying too many gifts, thinking that they are making others happy. In the end, you know your financial situation better than anyone. If you heed this advice above, you and everyone around you will be happier once January rolls around.
If you are burdened with debt stress, asking for sound advice is a sign of strength and the smart thing to do. Asking sooner rather than later is always better. Try our debt reduction calculator and call Doyle Salewski today for your free, no obligation consultation. You’ll be glad you did.