The holiday season is a wonderful time of year. Taking a break after a long year to spend quality time with our loved ones and enjoy a feast and celebration of another year survived, is a tradition that transcends religions, continents, and centuries.
For me, personally, I find the two weeks over the Christmas/New Year period the only time of year I am able to properly take a break from the business. It is, therefore, invaluable for my mental health and stamina for the year ahead.
However, for those managing the family purse strings, it can be a highly stressful time of year. Giving gifts, even to oneself, is a rewarding and uplifting custom. Yet managing the expectations set by the global marketing machine, can be very difficult. You may have noticed that the ads we are bombarded with in the media are not just for jocks and socks and soap-on-a-rope. We all spend disproportionate amounts of our hard-earned this time of year and all retailers want a piece of the action. Carmakers, travel companies, and white goods manufacturers all want in.
One of the things I enjoy most about my role as a financial adviser is that every client’s goals and situation are different. However, if I were to name the two most common destroyers of wealth for the average Australian, it would be credit cards and motor vehicles (and the expensive debt we often use to buy them). At this time of year, the former often get maxed out with the resultant debt hangover in the New Year taking months to recover from.
So here are my tips for having a great Christmas without the debt hangover:
– Make a list and check it twice!
– Avoid last-minute or impulse buying;
– Set a budget for gifts and entertainment (email me and I will send you an interactive form);
– Leave the credit card at home and buy with cash. If you must use credit, borrow only what you can pay off and use the cheapest debt you have access to;
– Shop on your own. Kids and friends tend to cause you to spend more;
– Avoid store discount cards and ‘interest-free’ deals. These will often cost you more in the end;
– Homemade gifts, such as food or handicrafts, mean more and cost less;
– Gifts don’t need to be material. Do some community or volunteer work for the less fortunate. This is the true spirit of Christmas.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.