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Christmas Wisdom

It’s a fantastic time of year when we travel, see friends, visit family, spread some good old cheer and of course, overspend on gifts.  

And so why do people overspend?

  • They overspend because they have no control over their money during the prior 11 months of the year.
  • They overspend because they’ve no real financial discipline in place.
  • They overspend because they’ve formed bad habits from years and years of poor decision making.
  • They overspend because they live month to month and have no meaningful and lasting relationship with their money.
  • They overspend because they think they have to and will worry about paying it off next year.
  • They overspend because they have never had any real money management education.
  • They think that putting their overspending on credit cards will make it all go away, which it will – at least until later in January when the credit card bills start arriving!

In the UK alone, in what is considered a wealthy country, over 16 million people have less than £100 in any form of savings. A surprising 45% of those earn over £30,000 per year giving them the ability to clear their debt and then save. It’s not rocket science really, so take it easy this Christmas and only buy what you can afford.

You’re at the mall and surrounded by shelf upon shelf of Christmas cheer. Everywhere you look there are hot chocolate-filled mugs, Rudolph-themed dog clothes and evergreen-scented candles. It makes you happy and you want it all. 

Christmas shopping is so much fun because you get to buy for the people (and pets) you love! But that doesn’t mean you should spend with abandon. That’s a recipe for impulse buying and overspending which = debt and disaster…….. 

So how do you look past those distractions and get what you originally went for? Here are six smart ways to enjoy the shopping season without paying for it later.

1. Make Your Budget

First, figure out exactly how much you can spend on Christmas. Next, make a list of everyone you’ll buy gifts for and write an amount beside each name. Make sure the total amount is no more that what you have budgeted for and saved up for, then you’re ready to shop!

2. Ask This Question

Before you buy that adorable set of seasonal mugs, pull in the reigns, and don’t become a mug.  Ask yourself, “Who am I buying this for?” Your answer will tell you if you should head to the check-out or not.

  • I’m buying it for Aunt Jenny. If it’s a gift for someone on your list, buy it. Just check your budget and keep it balanced.
  • I’m buying it for no one in particular. This will end up gathering dust until you eventually decide to donate it or throw it out. Put it back! You’ll thank yourself later, you really will….
  • I’m buying it for myself. Do you love those mugs enough to add them to your wishlist and wait, and do you really need them? Probably not, so let them go and use the money to pay off some of your existing debt. 

3. Call It Quits

Let’s say you’ve been searching all day for the perfect ceramic travel mug for your Dad. No luck. Then for some inexplicable reason, you buy him bath salts instead—bath salts, really! Welcome to decision fatigue. This happens when you’re so worn out, you’d rather buy anything than leave empty-handed. Next time just call it a day and head home. You’ll make much better choices after a good night’s sleep.

4. Look Away

Who hasn’t grabbed a magazine or some candy or lip balm while waiting in the checkout lane? Unfortunately, you can’t skip this process, but you can ignore all the strategically placed stuff by not looking at it! Put your eyes to better use by checking your emails, read an article or two, scroll through your budget or send a nice message to someone you love! If you can avoid browsing, you can avoid buying – simple really.

Be intentional and purposeful with your money, the rest will fall into place eventually.

5. Keep Your Receipts

And if you’ve already made a few impulse purchases this season, don’t worry. That’s the beauty of receipts. If you have a tinge of “I shouldn’t have bought this ugly, pre-lit tinsel wreath”, take it back. There’s absolutely no shame in returning something you don’t want or need. Remember to keep your receipts in a central location so they don’t pull a disappearing act on you.

And finally,

6. Stay in Control

It’s easy to go into “auto pilot shopping mode” this time of year and abandon your normal budgeting know-how. And if you don’t have a budget, look out for my “10 Point Money Makeover” which I will be giving away free in January.

It’s so important to go shopping with a plan and steer clear of impulse buys. Imagine a Christmas without guilt, stress or debt.

Now that’s something to cheer about!

Your Money. Your Choice. Your Life.

Until next time….

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