And This is even more the case this year with the crazy Covid crisis we are in the midst of. The reality is the majority of families live paycheck to paycheck even in the best of times. I wanted to share some things that have helped me, especially when I was a single mom and really needed to watch every penny going in and out.
1st. Set a budget – I know ugg! If you truly are planning to make a change in your financial picture in 2021, it starts with getting clear on where you really are financially.
Review your earnings and expenses, and then decide how much you’re willing to spend on holiday gifts, food and other items. Consider making a list and assigning each item a specific dollar amount. This will help you overcome the temptation to overspend.
We will talk more next week about how to build a budget.
- Plan your shopping
Whether you’re headed to the grocery store or braving the crowds at the mall, know what you intend to buy and who it’s for. Sticking to your list will also help keep you from buying unnecessary items and prevent overspending. It’s easy to make impulse purchases with all the eye candy in stores this time of the year, but you won’t fall prey to these consumer tricks when you know what you need.
- Don’t buy it if you can’t afford it. Don’t fall into the temptation of putting it on the credit card! I have done it too many times to count and I promise the horrible knot in your stomach when tou get the Bill will be much worse than the temporary satisfaction you feel.
A 2016 report from investment management firm T. Rowe Price showed that 25% of parents have dipped into their emergency savings or 401(k) retirement plan or taken out a payday loan in order to cover holiday expenses. If you can’t afford to buy your children something on their wish lists without taking out a loan or borrowing from another account, the best option is to not buy it — it’s OK to say no. Your children will survive. Shortchanging your savings or going into debt is ultimately more detrimental to your family than skipping a few presents.
We will be sharing more about How to build an emergency in a later session.
- Get creative with gift giving
You can give thoughtful gifts while spending a fraction of the cost. If you’re crafty, handmade presents are extremely thoughtful. And if you’re lacking in artistic abilities, you can always give the gift of your time. My most favorite gifts I have ever received is the gift of time and experience with my kiddos. Last year My boys who were 16 and 19 at the time gave my daughter and I the gift of doing a Tik Toc video with them. It was so hilarious and the number of belly laughs I have had since watching it over and over again is priceless. Cooking someone a meal, giving new parents a night out while you babysit, or offering to clean someone’s house are gifts that people will love and will cost you nothing.
Remember what the season is all about
It’s easy to be swept up in the consumerism of the season, but remember that it isn’t about money and materialism. Focusing on its religious purpose or enjoying time with your loved ones will keep you from stressing over less important things.
With a little planning and creativity, it’s possible to get through the holidays and avoid debt or wiping out your savings account. And you’ll feel even less stress when you reach January in good financial shape. If you need help getting yourself on track, schedule time with me or better yet join in on one of our financial classes we host twice a week. As always blessings to you in this amazing life journey and I can’t wait to see you son!
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