So, yeah, about that budget...
The holidays are right around the corner and many are prepping their wallets for large spending months in the near future.
From Market Watch, Americans racked up on average $1,054 in the 2017 holiday season. Half of people could pay off in 3 months. 29% would take more than 5 months. 10% would only be able to make minimum payments on their credit cards.
THIS. IS. BANANAS.
Before we get into some tips and tricks to get the most bang for your buck- let's begin with the trite notion of not living beyond your means.
Warren Buffett stated this in regards to stocks but rings true in daily life. "It is insane to risk what you have and need in order to obtain what you don't need."
If you have lost your job, you don’t need to be spending on family members as if you still have an income. Buying your child the newest pair of Nikes could mean not being able to put food on the table at some point.
It may be a tough conversation but as adults, we have to recognize when you may be in a difficult financial situation and it is necessary not to overextend yourself and end up in financial despair.
And, of course, I will follow that advice with a photo of a Gulfstream only because it's way prettier than a Delta Airbus 320.
Mix and Match Flights. Sites like Priceline can mix and match airline carriers in order to get you the best deal. Possibly one leg will be on United and another on American. Maybe you will have a connection. Every little saving helps when you will be traveling for possibly both Thanksgiving and Christmas (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa- whatever your jam is.)
Cab It. If you’re flying, maybe Uber to the airport depending on how long you will be gone and how expensive parking is- those tabs can add up.
Skip the Luggage. Try to pack only carry-on’s to save from 1) your luggage being lost at a busy time of year but 2) the bag fees that are going up. Most airlines now charge $30 for your first bag and $50 for the second. Multiply that times two for a round-trip.
Road Trip! Close enough? Skip the flight and drive. Oil has been at record lows due to oversupply making gas prices pretty cheap.
You are the host with the most! It is always gracious to host a holiday. A lot of planning is involved and usually a LOT of money. Food, drinks, decor, the little things can really add up.
Have a plan for how much food you will need. Try and buy in bulk to save if you're entertaining groups of people. Also, if people are staying at your home, use the leftovers from the night before to make breakfast the next morning.
Eggs with hams and leftover veggies is not a bad idea. You can also use that leftover champagne for mimosas ;)
Set a Budget. 1st step is to determine how much you can comfortably spend. Look at your upcoming expenses, current credit card statements, bank account and form a plan from there.
Make a List. Begin with a list of items you are buying for friends and family. Write down the item and how much you hope to spend *stick to it!* I will spend $x on the kids, $x on my spouse, etc.
A Deal Isn't Always a Deal. Cool your jets on the “deals” your getting during things like Black Friday. Keep in mind stores use a technique called “anchoring” to make you think you’re getting a crazy deal. Most retailers mark-up items about half. Meaning if they paid $50 for a product, the sales price will be $100 (minimum- lots of stores mark up even more.)
So when you see that glimmering 20% off- know that isn’t REALLY a deal. It’s anchoring. It is telling you the price WAS $100 and now its only $80- when in reality the item is worth $50. Of course its always better to save a bit of money if it’s something you’ve really been hankering.
Just don’t get tied up in thinking you have to buy something because you’re getting some crazy, amazing deal.
Get Creative! Save your bucks and DIY! Head to a craft store and come up with a unique idea. My friend Catherine used her Polaroid camera to snap pics at parties over the holidays and then got inexpensive, cute frames to put them in and gave those as gifts. It’s the thought!
TIPS & TRICKS.
Cash Only. Roll like Migos and Ellen and stick to cash. Hit your bank before the mall and withdraw your chosen an amount, of say $600 to spend on gifts, remove that in cash and don’t touch that card! Using cash makes you more cognizant of what your spending.
Migos keep like $100k on them at all times so maybe do a bit less than that.
Clip the Coupons. For online, look for free shipping and discount codes. For in store, look to see when their sales are starting. Also, check their websites before heading to the physical store as they might have coupons to be used in store.
Prepare for Pop-Ups. Buy a few generic gifts. If someone drops by a present and you feel obligated to give one back- it’s nice to have a couple spare candles or bottles of wine to give in return.
Just remember what the holidays are really all about...ALCOHOL *kidding*- - my family does take it pretty seriously though as you can see above ;)
Overall, don’t get so wrapped up in “stuff.” It is hard work to make money. Throwing it away frivolously on things you don’t really need is just wasteful. Maybe if you all have enough “things” find a charity to donate to. If you want to do good without spending any bucks, go volunteer.
These holidays tend to be about excess and when you’re done it can be pretty exhausting and depressing if you’re going to return to a bank account with 23 pending charges. Be smart. Your friends and family will love you no matter how big or small the gift is. Sometimes the gift of just all being together is enough.
Happy holidays to all of you and your families!