How are you going to cope with Holiday shopping? Pulling out the old plastic again?
It’s that time of the year again
Well, it’s already started! This past Saturday, with flyers in hand, I went looking for my new Christmas lights to replace those I lost last year. Those of you who have been clients of mine all know that I have a Christmas and Holiday account where I save for that wonderful time of the year. On Friday I transferred some funds from my Christmas and Holiday shopping account to my chequing account to begin my shopping on Saturday.
While standing at the checkout I noticed a couple with two children who were ahead of me. Each of the kids had a toy in their hands and they were asking their parents to purchase them. The father said no and the mother said, “It is not every time we go shopping that you will get a treat.” To that, the little boy replied, “You and dad do, so why can’t we?” The little girl piped up and said, “Why not just put it on the credit card. You do that all the time.” The parents just said no and the mother looked at me and said, “They are little devils aren’t they.” All I could do was smile and nod my head.
That scene at the store prompted me to write this blog. We all know that December is the most expensive month of the year for everyone who celebrates religious holidays. It seems that the pressure and the temptation to spend increases each year. This is especially true if you have children, as it is very easy to feel that you are letting them down if you do not give them at least some of the expensive toys that they want.
Some of you have seen the commercial where the children are making their wish list with the father asking the mom if she had seen that wish list and her reply to him with the children watching and listening is “I got it”. What are the messages we are sending to our children about the holidays?
Will we have a commercial in January when those parents receive the credit card bills showing the anguish and regrets on their faces and making promises that they will never do that again?
If you do not have a Christmas account and you must buy gifts, make a list of the people to whom you wish to give Christmas presents. It is fine to restrict this list to very close friends and family. Do not feel under pressure to give gifts to everyone you know.
Next write down the maximum amounts that you plan to spend on each person’s gift and calculate the total amount. If you are shocked by the total go back and reduce some or all of the amounts until you reach a total you can live with. Once you begin your Christmas shopping your aim should be to find gifts for each person on your list at the spending plan you created or below it.
Another great idea a friend of mine did last year was to invite all the people for whom she normally purchase gifts to a lasagna and spaghetti dinner which she prepared herself and asked everyone to bring a bottle of wine for $10.00 or less. It was a blast and everyone had a great time.
The biggest gift you can give your self is to wrap your credit card up today now while you are reading this blog and place it in a container of water and freeze it until after the January 31st. By then all the after Christmas sales are done and you are safe from using your credit card and regretting having done so.
Breaking your spending plan does not allow you to truly enjoy Christmas. You end up worrying about how to pay the bills instead of worrying about which party to enjoy. So stay within your spending plan this year and enjoy the season.
Christmas shopping has always been a time of overspending, and retailers are really good at running promotions and coming up with the latest gift ideas to entice shoppers to spend more money that they really want to. Once at the shopping mall, you are constantly bombarded with opportunities to buy, buy and buy without realizing it; multiple small purchases accumulate into big amounts which give a big shock when the credit card bill comes later.
This year, be prepared for Christmas shopping by starting with a list, and a spending plan before you head to the mall.
Here are six points to remember to stay on plan.
1. Make a list of the people for whom you are buying gifts
2. Think of the gift you would like to buy
3. Create a spending plan of how much you want to spend
4. Do online or store research of the items you want to buy
5. Begin shopping early to avoid buying on impulse
6. Review actual spending against the spending plan you created.
Now, to be truly effective, this is the time to start a Christmas fund for next year. Use this year’s expenses as the budget for Christmas 2011. Divide your total spending by twelve or by the number of pay periods you have each year and put that amount aside in a Christmas account each month. That way, you will have your money in your account and won’t need your credit card. That’s the best Christmas present you can give to yourself.
Happy shopping and in the New Year we will all celebrate debt free.
Tessa- Marie Shillingford is the author of Controlling the Debt Monster. She is Personal Financial Planner, with a designation from the Institute of Canadian Bankers, and a Financial Counselor certified by the institute of Canadian Banker. She is presently a Program Facilitator of Financial Literacy at JVS Toronto. Tessa- Marie was employed by TD Canada Trust for twenty years in the retail section of the bank. During her tenure at TD Canada Trust she held various positions interacting with customers of the bank. As a Financial Advisor and Manager of Financial Services she led a group of Financial Advisors in helping customers of TD Canada Trust successfully manage their finances. Details of her book… Controlling the Debt Monster, can be found at http://www.controldebtmonster.com