There are twelve days to Christmas, so naturally, we have just as many tips for you to avoid making your life a living hell in January. As if you won’t have enough on your hands with all those resolutions.
Instead, start the new year with a fresh slate, no new debt, and a bellyful of Christmas memories you don’t regret.
These are the most common mistakes made in the days leading up to Christmas. Avoid them, and you will have just as much fun as everyone else. Come the new year, you’ll start out on the right foot.
While everyone else is holding their respective heads, trying to forget the nightmare they just created with their finances, you’ll be on New Year’s Street. It’s that happy place where people skip down the road, chasing their dreams for the new year.
Waiting Too Long
This is first because it’s the first thing you have to stop doing. Your procrastination will bite you right in the wallet when you realize how limited are your options.
Unless you plan to leverage your procrastinating nature as the reason you purchased zero gifts (bad idea that does not lead to New Year’s Street), you will be stuck with no options.
Closer to the holiday, stores know that you have no other options. They are less motivated to offer special.
Online purchases become impossible due to expensive rush shipping or no time left. Get going on your plan and execution now to avoid these problems.
Not Planning Ahead
Before you run out to buy all your gifts today, stop. Read this blog–No Cash? No Problem; Gift Giving Plans For The Rich In Spirit–then sit down to design your plan.
This can be a fun part of your holiday. Pour yourself s a nice cup of coffee, grab a pen, then use your budget and shopping list to determine a plan of action.
Against all odds, stick to your plan, stick to your plan, stick to your plan.
The first misstep in planning, once you have a good plan, is to break it. It’s one thing to color outside the lines when one of your ideas doesn’t pan out, but just buying something because you see it is not wise.
If you have to buy something other than what you’ve planned, stick to your budget for that item. Do not buy on impulse.
Beware the checkout lane at any store. The stores have well-paid analysts who design these areas to pull money from your pockets.
You can drain your budget fast on these whimsical purchases. Stick to your plan.
Shopping With Your Ego
What people remember from Christmas are the times you spent together. Rarely does a gift stand out as, unless it’s a big-ticket item.
If you were in the big-ticket-item shopping crowd, you wouldn’t be reading this. You are shopping on a budget, so don’t shop with your ego.
More important than spending the bank, it’s important that you spend time with loved ones.
If you’re going to bring a gift to mark that time together, I get it, but stick to your plan.
Credit Card Purchases Beyond Your Means
You can use your credit cards, but do not spend outside your budget. When you use them to make purchases, that’s not free money. I know you know that, but it’s easy to lie to yourself in the heat of the moment.
You must plan to pay off those bills when they arrive in January. Anything else puts you in the nightmare post-holiday stress. We already agreed you would skip down the dreamy lane called New Year’s Street.
Better than cards, use cash. Pull out what you need, then spend it using your plan.
Skipping Out On Bills
It’s tempting to skip a bill or two during the holidays, but only do this as part of a program offered by your debtors.
Student loans can be forgiving. Credit cards will let you slide once and awhile. Both will ding you for naughtiness [read: not discussing it beforehand].
For some debtors, you get one miss, then they jack your interest rate. They may also report you to the credit agencies.
When you need that loan next year, you’ll have to pay for your naughty holiday behavior. Don’t do this to yourself. You have a plan.
Shopping Online Exclusively
Shopping online was once the only way to shop. Prices used to always be the best online. Often, they still are if you know what you are doing.
What many fail to recognize is that shipping costs can not only cost you more, you may not have enough time to receive the gift. Be wary of online shopping at this stage in the game.
Consider all your options, especially with higher prices gifts on your plan. In many cases, you can use the WiFi in any store to shop online to see if you can beat that price.
If not, you know where you are shopping.
Borrowing From Family Or Friends
Family and friends mean well when they loan you money. Owing money to those you love is awful. It can tear apart relationships.
Better than you create a plan with the budget you have. Don’t leverage the love of those close to you. It’s also weird to buy them gifts with their own money.
Get them something inexpensive and thoughtful instead. Donate your time to charity in their name. Do anything to avoid this as part of your plan.
Opening Store Credit Lines
Tempting as all get out, signing up for store credit will always haunt you. I don’t care if it’s zero interest for 24 months, you will lose.
This is like playing to win in Vegas. Most of the time you will lose. The reason is that these stores hire the same minds who craft the tempting offers found in Vegas.
They leverage reams of data combined with your personal data to find the best ways to make you spend that credit. Then you have to pay it back, often spending more than you thought.
Shopping While Intoxicated
It sounds like fun; dip into the nog before hitting the mall.
Once that first drink hits your brain, which is minutes after you drink it, you begin losing your ability to make sound decisions.
You may find it tempting to drive intoxicated, which is a whole ‘nother bag of financial woes.
Drink eggnog and be merry, but do it when you’re done shopping. Otherwise, you will stray from your plan.
Similar to impulse buying, unplanned shopping happens when you weren’t planning to shop.
You don’t have your list with you. You don’t have your budget. You don’t necessarily know what you were going to buy. It’s one thing to happen upon a good deal for something in your plan, but if you’ve been through in your plan, that shouldn’t happen.
You’ve already found where the good deals live. Worst case scenario, if you see something you must have, wait or get a receipt. Plan to return it if you can’t beat the price.
There is a time to eat out. This isn’t that time unless someone is treating you.
Money spent in restaurants goes fast. It’s in the same category as impulse buys, where you can’t keep track of what you’re spending. This is the time of year you want to make budgeted purchases as the grocery store.
Take snacks with you when you go shopping. Your budget for food is all spent at the grocery store.
If you must go into a restaurant because you’re socializing, consider your budget. You can always eat beforehand, then order something small.
If you avoid these missteps, you should be fine. You may still suffer some financial stress, but with damage control.
You can still find your way to New Year’s Street even if you get a little lost on the way. Just, whatever you do, don’t give up.
We’re talking about how you start next year, and how you start is how you finish. Start like a winner by sticking to your plan.