OPEN your diary and count the number of days before the Christmas and holiday season begins. You will quickly realise, once you remove all the days when you are busy both at work and at home, entertainment you have booked into your diary, time you have planned with your children and the days when the shops are closed, there are very few days left for you to prepare your finances for the holiday season.
The shops are quick to remind you, some as early as October, that Christmas and the holiday season are not far away and it is very easy to let the time drift by as you organise parties to attend, and forget about organising how you intend to pay for everything.
As soon as the fairy lights are showing at your neighbour’s property, it may already be too late you to plan your finances properly, without having to resort to credit cards and other loan or overdraft facilities, to fund your holiday experiences. Some of your work colleagues always appear to have sufficient funds available, but they probably prepared for the extra expenses during the holiday period, well in advance.
Every single dollar matters during the holiday season. Where you enjoy it by purchasing your lunches and regularly going out for dinner, combined with watching films at the cinema frequently, this might be the time to forego those extra luxuries and redirect the same money towards the purchase of gifts and everything else associated with Christmas.
The best way to plan ahead is to set yourself a budget of how much you will be spending on gifts, entertainment and the extravagant food and drinks bill that we all appear to encourage at this time of the year. Once you know how much money you need to have set aside, you will quickly understand if this will be available from your current funds and savings or whether you need to make other arrangements or reduce your plans to make them affordable.
When you consider what you are going to be spending across the Christmas period, the amount will vary considerably depending upon whether you wish to have a quiet season of reflection and spend time with your close family and friends or whether you intend to live it up with lots of parties, extravagant presents and plans to travel around the islands to visit relatives that you may only see once every other year.
Should you overspend, you need to be aware of how this will impact upon your family and how you will be able to cope financially after the holiday period is over. There will always be a stream of other expenses arriving, whether planned or unexpected, that will appear in your general budgeting allowances, but if you have overspent during the Christmas period you may need to cut back on your general expenses for the first three or four months of the year, just to clear your bills and credit card debts.
By buying in bulk with friends and family or colleagues, and planning everything well in advance, you will still allow yourself sufficient spontaneity and available funds to enjoy Christmas and know that your holiday spending money can be stretched sufficiently for you and your family.