The Holiday is getting closer and closer, while all of us are trying to surprise and amaze our loved ones in this lovely season, there is only one hurdle: the irrefutable catch-22 situation calls in as soon as the festivities are over. “More often than not, post-holiday analysis are marked by unexplained credit card debts, and uncalled for soft loans” explains Elizabeth Mbugua Head of Customer Care at Jovago.com, the leading hotel booking site, “in contrast to the popular scenes witnessed in January, holidays should be a time to relax, catch up with family and friends and simply set pace for the year ahead.” So how can you ensure a “no regrets” January after all the festivity? Here are a few valuable tips to help you stay within the budget while making the most out of the holiday season.
Avoid Last Minute Rush
Without delving into Antoine Cournot’s Law of Demand and Supply, it’s important to note that frantically dialling tour operators and surfing through Hotel Booking Sites on the night of 23rd December will not do your pocket any favour. Think of yourself as the proverbial early bird, and aim for the fattest worm! You may already be running late, but you can still wallow in the grace of other procrastinators who are yet to hit the roof with the “high season benefits”. Hurry, this does not only apply to holiday travel, Christmas shopping will also sky rocket soon as we cross over to the second half of December.
It’s Not a Sale If You Do Not Need It
It’s officially the first day of Xmas Shopping, the day Santa officially takes his seat in the malls; and every kid wants to get a gift from the ol’ man! Retailers are keen and save no effort to make the most out of this season. So, beware of Christmas sales and offers; my rule is, ‘if I don’t really need it, then it’s not really on sale” Do not be drawn into the euphoria of hoarding suppliers you will need next Valentine. Simply keep your discipline, thank Lady Luck if you can get two turkeys for the price of one fat turkey, and leave the ‘50 percent off Christmas decorations” if you are not into that kind of stuff.
Pay in Cash, and Watch the Money Go!
Cash is real, it’s tangible and for some reason has a way of parting with the earner too soon! On the other hand, it is psychologically easier to slap a plastic on a hefty bill and feel no pinch since you shall have to wait till end of your month to see the effects of your impulse purchase.
The advantage of paying in cash is that you can only use what you have on hand, watch it leave your wallet, process the damage and make a well-thought decision on your next purchase.
A Personal Touch: Craft Your Gifts or Buy in Set
Apart from achieving uniqueness, the personal touch in hand-made Christmas gifts is touching both to the soul and the pocket! Try handmade Christmas cards, painted mason jars, book holders, photo frames and even cookies for the kitchen mates. Alternatively, if you are not sure of your handy skills, you can buy gifts in sets for bulk discounts and then attach personal touches such as signed Card, flowers, chocolate truffles etc.
Money Lessons: Financial-savvy Kids.
As parents, we usually fall in the all-well-known trap “I am giving them what I never had” hysteria. Great ideology, not very practical though. Train your children to appreciate and value even small presents, that way, the family will rejoice on the available with no chances of tantrums and sulking. As Beth Kobliner, author of Get a Financial Live and co-creator of Money as You Grow explains, children as young as three years can grasp financial concepts such as saving, and spending; by seven years, the little ones already display money habits. Needless to say, this traits are picked from the parents and guardians. Just a way of saying a debt free generation takes off at three!
Make a Budget, and Stick to it
Budget is one of the rules that should not be broken. Regrettably, we are all guilty of breaking this golden rule with such haphazard recklessness. Avoid budget-busting temptations by walking around with your list, estimated prices and quantity. List an all-inclusive budget when going out for outdoor activities as well to avoid over-spending on entertainment.
Finally, keep track of your holiday expenditure/Budget and use it to mark out financial pattern for future reference.