We joke about January being the longest month of the year. And we know it’s because we usually break the bank and blow all our savings in December. I thought we could change things up in 2017. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could Keep Calm & Cash This Holiday Season?
1. Get Budget Buy-in
The music, decorations and numerous cards decking your table and inbox have gotten you in the mood but, before you get caught in the spirit and send an impulsive invite to your entire extended family or company, consult your budget on whether or not you can set aside a budget for the holidays that will not compromise critical expenditure this month nor, leave you in the lurch in January.
If your budget says you don’t have wiggle room, you don’t. Don’t go borrowing because you are high on the Christmas spirit because you will regret it when you are low after the New Year countdown.
“Cash is King” so, if you have paid off all basics (tithe, offerings, giving, food, shelter, (necessary clothing), healthcare, etcetera) and have already set aside your savings, and you can pay cash (not credit) for holiday spending, knock yourself out!
2. Plan Your Presents
Dave Ramsey advises that you be conscious of exactly how much you are signing up to part with this holiday season by:
1. Writing a list of every person you mean to buy a gift for
2. Next to their name, write down exactly how much money you choose to spend on them
3. Tally up your total gift spending at the bottom so that you have a final figure of how much you are about to set yourself back this holiday
4. Tweak your gift spending, accordingly
5. Stick to your budget
Discipline yourself to only spend what you have decided to spend and walk away when your cash runs out. This way you will keep peace with yourself, others (since it is important to you) and the all intimidating January which is sure to come in the next two weeks.
3. Gift DIY
Remember when you used to make things when you are a child? Or those that lived through times when things were not readily available in the market. What did you do then? You made them yourself, right? Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. Use what you have or can cheaply access and Do It Yourself. Make gifts from the heart that will touch family and friends because you have put thought and personal effort to creating each piece especially for the person you will present it to.
May the practice of making your own gifts awaken numb feelings, rekindle old interests and sharpen blunt skills. Maybe it can develop into a culture. Maybe the process will make you so mad that you will vow and follow through on never being this broke again. Whatever the outcome, you would have made an impact in the lives of loved ones and will breathe easy in January.
4. Share the Love and the Load
Many a times we think that if we host people at home, we are saving a lot on renting venues and having decorators and caterers. This is not necessarily true. There are hidden costs such as hiring gazebos, extra tables and chairs, mobile toilets, to name just a few.
If you really must host family and friends this season, share the load as well as the love by:
1. Listing the items needed for the get together, being careful to not overlook anything.
2. Send the list out to guests, inviting them to pledge the item(s) on the list that they can bring.
3. Stick to bringing what you have pledged to. If it is providing the venue, then that’s what it is.
Be creative, allowing yourself and others to do what they are comfortable with. As long as it functions, is sanitary and presentable, let each person scratch only as far as their hand and heart can reach. After all, this is about coming together in love not, contest. And remember, you’re on a no-frills budget. You have no choice but to “act your wage”.
If it’s not to your standard and you know you can’t afford to invest in it, then maybe you shouldn’t have a function. Period.
I know you think this sounds like work. Actually, I would recommend that too because you’d actually be earning, rather than spending during the holiday season. Seriously though, imagine if you and your family could volunteer at a charity to serve people in need this holiday season. Whether an event already organized and catered for by others or something you come up with, with your people, giving others the gift of your presence is often the greatest present anyone could wish for.
In this drive-thru age where interactions are like a hit and run, wouldn’t it be refreshing to slow down and actually be present? Who knows, you might actually enjoy, real, heart to heart, face to face (that’s not FaceTime) conversations with people you can feel and smell. Plus, you’d save a buck, surely there is nothing wrong with that.
6. Experience It Online
Speaking of being online, you can actually find many creative ways of interacting with and gifting people online and, many of them are for either a negligible fee or completely free.
Browse the internet for creative ideas on events, invites and other experiences that will delight the senses without decreasing savings, this holiday season. Whether for you or a loved one, you can travel the world, meet new people, read a book, watch fireworks and learn skills you’ll need in 2018, in the comfort and safety of your home and at the cost of your phone’s hotspot (yeah, that’s serious savings).
Try these and think up a few more ideas of how you can Keep Calm & Cash This Holiday Season because January is Around the Corner and my friend, numbers don’t lie!
Until the next time we meet on Fridays in Financial Freedom, Merry Christmas to you and yours and I pray for a 2018 where you prosper in every area in your life just as your soul prospers, in Jesus’ Name! 3 John 1:2.