So, you spent too much money for the holidays.
You were engulfed in a wave of generosity, feeling like Oprah on a gift binge. You get a gift, you get a gift, everybody gets a gift! It was your greatest giving year to date. You made it rain presents. Your family, friends and co-workers, have no idea what hit them.
We can’t forget your holiday party. The champagne flowed like a river that never runs dry. The fine cheeses, meats, and hors d’oeuvres, filled the bellies of the guests. And boy, oh boy, did they love your decor. You just had to have the Santa Claus salt shakers.
Then the holiday pixie dust settles. An overwhelming feeling of stress, anxiety, and guilt overcomes your soul. You now have to face your credit card statement. You pull out the last bottle of fine wine from the Christmas party and take a deep breath. “But it felt so good” you exclaim while angrily shaking your fist at the computer. “Why does it have to end like this!”
Well, it doesn’t.
There could be a variety of psychological reasons why you overspent. You wanted your kids to have a better Christmas than you did as a child. You wanted to impress your in-laws. You love the sound of “Santa Claus is coming to town” as your plastic card swipes through the machine. You get a rush right before you push the buy now button on Amazon (It’s so easy, right?).
Who knows what your situation is. The fact of the matter is, you’re in a pickle and need to get out of it. Even further, you want to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Let’s get this out of the way first. Gifts are great. I love giving gifts. The dopamine you get from gift giving is one of the best feelings on earth. Guess what? You can actually spend just as much as you did this year and not kill your wallet.
Here are 4 ways to do it.
1.) Get Real With Yourself
Realize you made a mistake. You messed up. It’s not a valid excuse to say, “Oh, everyone else overspends during Christmas, it’s normal.”
Repeat after me: I chose the Spending life, the Spending life did not choose me.
2.) Hustle to Get Rid of The Debt
Debt is a flaming emergency. You need to put out the fire as quickly as a possible. That means throwing every extra dollar you have at that debt until it’s gone.
The mistake many people make is paying down credit card debt in small chunks each month. The minimum payments will take you a year to pay off your debt. Not only that, you will be paying interest.
Stop the madness before it starts. If the debt is more than you can handle, you may have to hustle. Sell stuff you don’t use, pick up some odd jobs, or start a side hustle.
Dare I say, use your tax return for something productive.
3.) Save For Next Year In January
Go to your credit card statements and add up how much money you spent this year. Now add another 10% to that number.
If you spent $1,000 then your number would be $1,100. We are adding a cushion.
Then divide that number by 12. So for our example of $1,100, we would get about $92.
Now every month save $92. Put it in an envelope labeled Christmas. If you have a budget make a Christmas category. This may seem weird and far fetched in July, but you have to keep saving. It is inevitable that Christmas is an expense, so we must be ready!
4.) Buy Gifts Throughout The Year
The benefit of saving money throughout the year is as deals pop up, you can pounce on them. You have the Christmas cash saved. Buy the sweaters in the summer and swimsuits in the winter. You will end up spending less in the end.
How much more enjoyable would holidays be if you walked away debt free. The actually holidays are stressful enough without you having to worry about money.
So next year walk into January with a smile on your face. You gave, you saw, you conquered, without a trace of debt in sight. The holiday debt cycle doesn’t control you anymore, because you were ready.
Gift on my friend. Gift on.