The Christmas holidays are fast approaching. It is the time of the year that people from all over the world think of how to spend the holidays. It is also the time where a lot of people, whatever reason they have for celebrating, overdo holiday spending.
As Andrea Gibson says, “We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe,” we also have different reasons for spending for the holidays. The problem is not spending but how we overdo it. We always take the reins when it is too late.
What are the reasons for overspending during the holidays?
Christmas is a celebration by Christians for commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Ironically, Jesus’ birth is a symbol of simplicity but people including Christians feast with a bang. Not that it is wrong to feel festive or joyous but we can do it by not overspending.
Not everybody is a Christian but they also spend the holidays for any reason available. Even the non-Christians are ‘inspired’ by the celebration and tend to spend for gifts, clothes and accessories.
People tend to overspend for any festivity in any culture. Stories from around the world talk about giving the best for the loved ones during the holidays, or during festivities, as if there is no tomorrow to worry about. Actually, Christmas is one of those festivities in a year for some to display extravagantly their riches and accomplishments.
If the purpose to overdo the holiday spending is to show off or make a show of possessions, then we are amiss in doing so. We will end up with unwanted expenses and maxed out credit cards spent for extravagant parties and expensive gifts.
The common excuses we usually hear during the holidays that result to overdoing the holiday spending include:
- “Well, it’s Christmas time so I can spend!”
There is no rule that says we have to splurge money because it’s Christmas or it’s a holiday. It is just one of those days in a year, only that we remember its importance.
- “My (loved one or special person) deserves expensive gifts!”
The best gift to give for a loved one or for a special person is our time and love. Cliché it may sound, it is always the thought that counts not the amount we put on gifts.
- “I deserve a lavish gift because I worked hard for the year!”
While this is excusable and understandable, it is always best to support a life of simplicity. Always check for an excess money before buying a lavish gift for the self.
- “It’s not really pricey, a lot of people can afford it!”
This justification is a consolation for the self because it will be stressful to think that we spent money over an item which price is equal to one or more items from another cheaper brand. Another stressful truth to consider is how it made a big dent on your budget or in your credit card.
Effective Planning Combined with Frugality
After learning our purpose about spending for the holidays, we can now plan on what to spend for. This time we have to combine it with frugality. Frugality is equivalent to spending money not in a wasteful way, and being thrifty in our expenses.
It is always best to have planned a year before a holiday or a festivity. This way, there is an available budget and will not make a big hole on the available money we have for the moment. If it was not possible to save a year earlier to the festivity, it would be best to list down what we are going to spend.
Below are the concerns that need consideration. We may ask ourselves these questions before expending cash:
- How much money do I have?
We spend money for the holidays after we deduct our obligations from our earnings first. This is a priority. We cannot afford to spend first before paying our debts, loans and other obligations. It would not sit well with any financial guru to postpone payments for these obligations just for the holidays.
It is not a sound idea to overdo our holiday spending and we have not paid our credit card balances, or loan amortization, yet.
- How much money will I spend for food?
The holidays make us think about food. Food is aplenty during the holidays and we tend to overeat when we see a lot of food.
This concern about how much money to spend for food is very important. We can prepare food in a frugal way for the holidays. We have to prepare just enough and right for the number of people who will eat. We have to count the number of visitors we will receive. We have to limit the variety because most of the time the more kinds of food we prepare, the more food we waste in the end.
We need to effectively plan our menu for the holidays. It is ‘two birds in one shot’ – we save money and we stay healthy by not overeating.
- How much money will I spend for gifts?
The common mistakes we do is to splurge money for gifts. As mentioned above, it is always the thought that counts. The gift of time and love do not necessarily have to be expressed through expensive gifts.
- Do I have to buy new clothes, shoes, and accessories?
The festivity –Christmas – is about Jesus. It is never about people. Why is there a need to buy new clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. for this season? If you do not care for the celebration, for whatever reason, the more that you do not need to buy new apparel and accessories to spend the holidays.
If there is a need to buy new wear because what are available are time-worn and broken-down apparel and accessories, we can probably buy new ones but we have to budget the money we have to spend for them. We just need to have them presentable and proper.
- Do I have to buy house decorations for the holidays?
There are people who spend money for holiday decorations for their houses every year. While this is not necessary, we can check first the decorations if they are still okay and functional before buying a new set again.
Spending with Cash
The most effective way to deal with our holiday expenses is to spend or pay with cash. This way we limit our expenses and not burden our credit card again with unpaid balances. The holidays will pass in a flash. Therefore, we do not overdo our holiday spending. We have to get ready for future expenses, including the unexpected.
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