THE annual financial binge is upon us ... cleverly disguised as the festive season!
We're well and truly into November now, with only 49 days to go until Christmas (and 50 days until the Boxing Day sales - which for some people is an even bigger deal!).
All jokes aside, there is a serious side to Christmas, and that is the effect it can have on your financial resources. Most financial advisers realise that without careful planning and discipline, Christmas can have a significantly negative effect on the rest of the year - with people still paying off the credit card well into the New Year.
This is probably not new news - but in order to better survive the debt hangover that can arrive post-December, here are a few timely tips.
1. Set a budget!
Don't just stop at budgeting for gifts - think of the cost of lunch/dinner, decorations, lights for your house and that blow-up Santa that you just had to have. A reasonable amount of planning at this stage is good, but the real value is in sticking to it! Don't be tempted by sparkly things...once December is over, they simply become a storage problem.
It's probably a bit late for this one, but had I thought to write this column earlier, you would have had time to set aside surplus cash to create a bit of a 'Christmas Fighting Fund'. Why not make this one of your New Year's Resolutions? It might help with Christmas 2013.
3. Secret Santa
Being a male, the bane of my life is thinking of something that my wife or three daughters will appreciate. After many failures, I have delegated this task as much as possible. However, Secret Santa is the solution! Imagine only having to find one thoughtful gift...this is something that works with family, and not just in the office. Plus, then you get all the added fun of scheming and guessing who has whom...
4. Share your wish list (subtly!)
There are a few ways to suggest suitable gifts to friends or family...I wouldn't go as far as posting lists on the fridge or on Facebook, but do try and think ahead of time about what you really need. This will enhance your enjoyment of the gift, and it may save you from a knitted sweater or another pair of socks (not that there's anything wrong with sweaters or socks...).
5. Splurge on Boxing Day bargains
I say this one with caution - although I hear there are bargains galore when it comes to post-Christmas sales, they're not really worth going further into debt for. Bargains may be nearly impossible to pass up, but if that neon yellow skirt is never going to be worn, it doesn't really matter how cheap it is...so don't buy it.
For most people, Christmas is a time of giving...and it is certainly important that we take the time to celebrate our ability to give joy and happiness to our friends and family at this time of the year. Just please don't end up giving interest charges to the credit card companies!
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