Surviving Christmas

Hands up if you overspent at Christmas!

It’s so easy to get caught up in the magic or hype of Christmas and the financial blur of it can really take its toll when you regroup after the holidays to discover you’re broke. The first thing to do is not let yourself panic. Recovering will take a little planning and a little bit of discipline. Here are my top ten tips for recovering after a spending splurge:

  1. You need universal commitment. That means if you have a family, you need everyone’s support. Take a moment to address your family with a “Here’s where we are at” summit to discuss the status of your finances.
  2. Accept some lifestyle changes for the short term. I often talk about needs and wants and the comparison between the two. Balancing the two keep us motivated and where we enjoy our lifestyle. However, if you’re feeling the pinch from your Christmas spending bender then you need to sacrifice your wants for the short term. Just one Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato per week and maybe cancel that magazine subscription or change your pay TV plan to a basic one for a few months.
  3. Ditch the credit cards. If you have given the poor card a flogging over Christmas it’s time to give it a well-deserved rest. Physically take the card out of your purse/wallet and put it away in a safe place. I can resist everything except temptation – Oscar Wilde
  4. Study EVERY purchase. For the next few pay days ask yourself EVERYTIME you want to spend money “Do I NEED it?” You will be surprised the amount of time you say NO.
  5. The chance of winning Saturday night lotto is 1 in 3,838,380. So, how about skipping the in-it-to-win-it focus for a while. The same goes for scratchies, sports betting and raffles.
  6. I have written before about the richest man in Babylon. He ALWAYS paid himself first and paid his creditors second. He always found a way. It’s the same principle as suddenly needing braces for little Johnny and finding the money. So, commit to paying yourself (half on the credit card and half in a separate bank account) first.
  7. Watch your wastage. Do you cook too much food, do you go on unnecessary trips, and do you tip? Have a close look at the things you CAN change. Can you buy cheaper ingredients when cooking, do you plan your car rides or do you zig-zag all over town when running errands. It all saves you money.
  8. Did you give your air-conditioner a good workout last year? Christmas in Australia is usually our hottest time of year and we tend to treat ourselves to the comforts of indoor cooling or warmth if you’re in the northern hemisphere. Some of us take time off work to be home with family and because we are home we use more resources. Regulate your aircon times. If it’s 27 degrees (Celsius) outside and 23 indoors, do you really need the aircon churning away.
  9. Say NO. Functions, dinners, drinks or BBQ’s can sometimes sting the wallet a little, particularly if you have children. Give yourself a ban on outings until you have recovered from the spending blues.
  10. Plan forward. What bills are coming up in the next few months that will need your attention? Vehicle registration and House Rates and are two of the biggies I know of and can be quite confronting when they arrive. What strategy do you have in place that doesn’t require a credit card?