It’s that time of the year again, a time when all is good cheer and free spending. It is, of course, a time that retailers look forward to, and for possibly slightly different reasons, shoppers as well. Spending and general expenditure goes up considerably during the holiday period, and the inevitable January slump is almost typically predictable as disposable incomes have had a bite taken out of them by that point.
The question we are attempting to answer, is, what makes for reasonable spending during the holidays? What would be the wise thing to do with regards to one’s budget and finances, while at the same time ensuring that one gets to enjoy the holiday as well?
Before letting the bewildering frenzy of advertising, sales and seemingly amazing store deals get you into buying what you did not necessarily need in the first place, take stock on your situation and think through it carefully. Certain aspects need to be examined:
1. What do you really need, in the medium and long term? You will usually have a list of these items anyway. Are they part of the current sales promotions? Then getting them at discounted prices may be worthwhile.
2. What will actually be needed for the holiday season? Certain items, like gifts and food and drink are a no-brainer, as are decorations (or the children will never forgive you!) but these should be itemized specifically in an itemized list, to avoid impulse spending.
3. What can wait till after the holiday season? There are a number of obvious reasons for this perspective. One is that it will free-up some cash flow so that the sending that is necessary is actually done for the holidays. Another is the inevitable sizable discount process that happens in retail outlets across the country after the holidays are over. It certainly makes budgeting sense to wait until prices sky-dive before deciding to spend on that wide-screen TV you had been hankering after.
4. What can be bought in bulk? A lot of bulk sales actually go on during the holiday season, and these, as well as coupon sales, are often ignored or overshadowed by the retail sales blitz. Soft drinks, clothes, dry food items as well as fresh foods that require cold storage can easily be found at really competitive prices if one bothers to look carefully. And after the last two years, one lesson learnt is that it does pay to be careful with your money.
5. More importantly, holiday requirements rarely change drastically. A plan where you controlled or managed your spending from last year will, with a few alterations, fit into what you have this year, assuming of course, that your income has not fluctuated drastically. Thus, a good spending plan is like a good habit. If it worked the last time round, pull it out, dust it off and give it another go. That will have you actually looking forward to the traditionally lean periods after the holidays.
Most importantly, be wise with your spending, as cautious with your money as you have been all year. The holidays are simply no excuse to let your guard down.