Christmas can be a very expensive season but if planned properly you can stay within budget and actually enjoy the season. I used to find that the build-up to Christmas became very stressful due to high expectations which were difficult to meet. In this blog, I will be writing about how to manage your Christmas budget and expectations.
Understand your own expectations and how they fit into your long-term goals
It is important to start with you. Your goals will feed into the expectations that you have for the holiday so this is a good time to have clarity. Start by looking at your financial goals and where you are. For example, if you are saving for an investment, how is that currently impacting your finances. Visualise your end goals and how this season will fit into them. This will also help you to have a realistic Christmas budget that fits into your lifestyle without losing sight of your financial goals.
Start planning and saving in advance
Once you have clarity on your goals and expectations, it is important to look at your budget. List down what you are looking to purchase and how much it is likely to cost. Incorporating your budget into this process will help you to know what you can or cannot afford. If possible, start the planning process in advance. When you start planning in advance, the Christmas budget can be added to your main budget as a short-term, savings goal. This gives you the advantage of saving smaller amounts over a longer period of time. It gives you more control over your finances and you are less likely to overspend.
Be honest about what you can and cannot commit to
It is easy to commit to a lot of things over the Christmas period which can potentially lead you to overspend. This can be buying additional presents, attending additional Christmas events, or going on that unplanned holiday. When you know your goals and have a budget in place it makes it easier to know your limitations. For example, I have family across the UK and I love visiting them. Sometimes in the heat of a conversation, we can start planning an impromptu journey to visit family. I usually take a step back and really think about the financial implications and if I can afford it at that time. If not, the plan is moved aside to allow us to plan and save for it properly.
Christmas only lasts a day
I remember when I initially moved to the UK and was told that most shops were closed on Christmas Day, I would literally want to buy the whole supermarket because I didn’t want food to run out. This continued over the years and I would ask myself, what if someone wants ice cream? What if someone wants oranges? What if the pasta runs out? What if the meat is not enough and we cannot buy anymore because it’s Christmas and shops are closed? This type of mindset led to a lot of money being spent unnecessarily. I had to take a step back and really understand what I wanted to achieve. When I understood this and what I can afford, I now come up with a more realistic budget and focus on important things. Christmas only lasts a day; you don’t need to buy a month’s worth of food just for a day.
Focus on the moments, not the materials
When I first became a mum, I wanted to buy a lot of presents for my daughter because I wanted her to have a lot of toys to open. The first year was a huge eye-opener because instead of being interested in the presents I bought her, my daughter was more interested in the wrapping paper and boxes. I actually realised that the time I spent with my family and the memories we made were much more valuable to me than the presents. Now I’m more careful about the presents that I buy and my focus is on the memories we create as a family.
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