The holiday season is one of the most exciting times of the year, but for some it can also bring with it feelings of financial stress.
Buying gifts for loved ones, hosting a lavish family feast and New Year celebration, or just the travel costs required to see all your friends and family can quickly add up.
Christmas, in particular, is a time when many of us are tempted to let loose a little – even Savers and Plodders might be tempted out of their spending shell!
For all the great potential for joy, there’s an equal chance it can put unwanted strain or pressure on the progress you’ve made toward your financial goals throughout the year.
Here are four top tips that can help you navigate the holiday season without giving yourself a financial hangover in the New Year.
1. Pre-plan your holiday spending
Ideally, you would have set a holiday budget early in the year and started saving up for the anticipated seasonal costs in the months leading up to December.
Although the word ‘budget’ has the potential to drain all the fun out of a Christmas fantasy, we think of it more as an early present to future-you instead.
It’s also a good way of assessing your capacity for fun and splurging over the next few weeks; if your finances are stretched thin, no amount of instant gratification will outweigh the benefits of showing a little restraint.
It’s natural to want to overspend during the holiday period, and with a little preparation and reflection, you’ll ensure that any overspending you might do will have minimal impact on your future goals – ensuring a smooth and celebratory start to the new year without sacrificing the essentials you love.
2. Stay on course with a financial roadmap
Once you’ve created your financial roadmap for the holiday season, you can start deciding how much you’re ready to spend on gifts, food and travel.
Staying the course during a tempting time is always easier when you have a solid plan and can find ways to stick to it. Christmas Day can require weeks of stress for a moment of joy – why not try introducing a secret Santa with your family rather than buying for everyone.
Another option is to get creative and add a touch of personal homemade charm to some of your presents – in a highly digital and commercial world, you’d be surprised at how many relatives will cherish something created with your own hands and from the heart.
Staying on course in the weeks leading up to the New Year will also help you determine how much you’re willing to spend on the days that are truly important to you and those close to you.
3. Don’t take out extra credit when it’s not necessary
One of the biggest traps that we can fall into during the holiday season is thinking what we can afford isn’t adequate. It can be difficult to resist the temptation of accessing extra credit, but the ongoing cost very rarely outweighs the temporary reward.
Store credit cards, Buy-Now-Pay-Later schemes, or increased limits on your credit cards are just a few ways you can drag your goals down through the desire to please everyone but yourself.
Interest costs on most store cards are notoriously harsh and often incredibly high – they’re designed to take advantage of your urge to spend and it’s easy to get drawn into spending more than you planned if you feel that you’re not spending ‘actual’ money.
This all ties back to your financial roadmap; the course you’re on isn’t just from December to January, it’s a long-term journey that this festive season is just one small part of.
4. Be kind to yourself, your family, and your savings account
Finally – it’s the holiday season, so enjoy it!
The true potential for joy during this festive season is one that cannot be quantified by price; the time spent with our friends and families that we cannot get back.
So, remember to focus on your long-term goals and, if you find you’ve veered off track, don’t be too hard on yourself.
You can pick up again and continue moving forward.
You can focus on the good and appreciate the small things.
You can be kind to yourself, and to those around you.
To our clients, thank you for letting us help you realise a better financial future in 2023 – we look forward to continuing that work into the year ahead.
To our community, we hope to get to know you better in 2024.
If you’re curious about how we can help you unlock your financial potential and get on track to achieving your financial goals for the future, book a consultation with an enable.me financial coach.