How often have you approached the new year under a black cloud of financial doom and gloom, straight on the back of Christmas spending? Sure, you’ve got some shiny new toys and hazy memories of fun times. However, it’s likely Santa keeps leaving you with a rather empty wallet, along with those pressies stuffed so enticingly in the Christmas stockings.
The week after Christmas often feels like a hangover in so many more ways than one. While you can sleep off the party in a day, it usually takes your budget a whole lot longer to recover. So, how do you avoid getting a little too jolly with your money, in the season to be jolly? It’s all about spending mindfully.
Nothing sounds more boring than creating a budget during the ‘silly season’! However, doing so helps you spend mindfully and keep track of every dollar – so you don’t, in fact, go silly. After all, it’s all too easy to become enchanted by so much fun, so many glittery things and so much good cheer to spread.
Right now, ask yourself how much money you’re willing to spend on Christmas, including presents, food, decorations and parties. How much you can safely afford without getting into debt, blasting a hole in your rainy-day fund or setting yourself back from achieving a financial goal? Write the figure down, set aside the money and make it work for you. It’s easier than you think.
Many of us automatically stock up on Christmas cards, wrapping, gift tags, curling ribbon and all the rest of it. When you really think about this particular tradition, all that stuff simply goes straight in the bin with the leftover prawns. Now, picture looking at a $100 bill for a few seconds, ripping it apart and throwing it in the bin.
Start a new tradition and wrap your gifts in pretty scrap materials, handy shopping bags or sarongs, shirts and even the obligatory socks, to make up part of the present. Get creative online and record fun digital greetings to loved ones, or craft your own with recycled paper. Don’t be afraid to break the ‘rules’ of expectation in this way. Start your own traditions that benefit the environment and add a more personal flavour to your gifts.
Back to those prawns, most Aussie Christmas lunches could be cut down by half and still end up rotting in the fridge. Make a list of what you need and allocate specific dishes to each family member. Curb the desire to think, “but what if there’s not enough? I’ll buy (insert a dozen more food items here), just in case.” It’s those items that’ll be left in the sun to perish long after everyone jumps in the pool.
While new ‘things’ tend to lose their appeal by Boxing Day, experiences and time spent with loved ones create memories that last for life. Rethink the idea of gift-giving and make your own gift vouchers offering everything from home cooked meals to garden overhauls and fun outings. Volunteer your time to a charity and get your family and friends on board, to help those less fortunate while doing something meaningful together.
When you simplify Christmas by putting the focus on spending time with family and friends, rather than shiny objects that may end up in the bin anyway, jolly times become much less expensive. Plus, you can rest easy in the fact that, while you might have to sleep off a hangover or two, it won’t be your finances that need to go into recovery.
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