Don't Get Financially Squeezed for the Holidays
It's about that time where you are already thinking about spending all of your money during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It's a wonderful time to show your family and friends how much you love them and extend that love through gifts. You want to buy the newest Jordan's and all the toys that could fit in your spacious trunks. As for me, I'll send my family a bright smile and a Christmas card. I’ve never been one to go all out on gifts for the holidays now of course I don’t have a husband, children, or any pets (yes, I’m going to hold off on buying a cat…. I still have time left) so one day it might change. However, one thing I can say is, I will not allow myself to be financially squeezed for the holidays.
There's definitely a difference between expressing your thoughtfulness through gifts and simply overextending yourself, trying to keep up with the Joneses with lavish gifts that you can’t truly afford. Some people put themselves in ridiculously horrible positions by overspending during the holiday season. Some people grab loans for $3,000 for holiday shopping at their respective financial institutions and others subject themselves to payday lenders for quick cash for their loan needs. Payday lenders can give individuals quick cash but it is at an extremely high cost and causes a long term cycle of debt. The average payday borrower may pay a total of $800 to borrow $325. According to The Center of Responsible Lending, Payday lenders charge 400% annual interest on a typical loan, and have a business model that relies on making loans that borrowers cannot pay back without re-borrowing. Now, some people still feel obligated to take out these loans because they need something quick and feel that they don’t have much of a recourse. I could go on and on about how payday lenders grinds my gears and how they are strategically placed in low income and minority neighborhoods. Trust me, I understand how tight it can get and payday loan may seem like the only option. No judgement zone here but I truly don’t want anyone to fall into this debt trap by trying to please everyone for the holidays.
Society makes it so detrimental to spend your money, implying that it makes you happier, that you're a better person or wealthier than another person because you have all the expensive things. I would rather have the travel or have fun experience than loads of expensive stuff any day. Now don’t get me wrong I would warmly accept a Visa gift card, a nice watch, a new pair of heels, spa certificate, or something thoughtful just to put that out there but I would not want someone to break the bank (or credit union) for anything. Society also makes it so easy to borrow that they don't always consider the consequences of their actions. Don't feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses to have a great holiday or feel financially squeezed. Work with what you have, don't stress yourself out or put yourself in debt trying to please someone at the expense of your financial health. Your loved ones should understand if you're on a budget and it is ok tell someone that you are. Letting your family know you're on a budget is a key thing to keep the promise to yourself. If they don't understand then they probably don't deserve the gift.
By all means, don't get squeezed over the holidays. There are three ways to make sure that you don’t get squeezed financially for the holidays.
1. Live within your means!
If you find yourself stressing over how you will be able to afford gifts for the holiday, then you may be trying to go beyond your means. You may be stressing over things that will put a strain on your finances well beyond the holiday. If this is you, then I want to remind you to live within your means. You have to spend what you can actually afford to lose. It used to be ok to make things, buy things at discount rates, play games and make memories. Here’s a secret, it's still ok. Thrift stores are at the highest level right now, there are even high end thrift stores that would make you never want to pay full price again. Thrift shopping can cause you to be creative and for the fashionista that you may be shopping for may appreciate a nice vintage piece. Hey, just think of some trends that are reintroducing themselves and to think that you can get the most authentic version. You can pair something old with something new. Living within your means may force you to live to be creative and live within your means. If spree shopping at the mall isn’t realistic for you then get creative and figure out what works for your current means, your budget.
2. Mindfulness over Matter
More often we remember and value how amazing someone made us feel versus the expensive that you gave them. Some of the valued presents are those that are presented with love and thoughtfulness. Recall conversations of things that your loved ones may have brought up and they thought you forgot. Make your loved ones feel special, being thoughtful does not require you to get expensive presents. Believe me when I tell you that DIY gifts bring the greatest return!
3. Start holiday saving now! Get ahead of the curve.
Now that you have all of this year gifts out of the way it’s time to re-up for the next holiday season. It’s best to open a Christmas Savings Account. It’s never a bad idea to get ahead of the curve. Get an idea of how much you want to spend and save for it. It will save you so much more money than borrowing it. It may be a great idea to open up your child a savings account. You can teach them to save in the process and get them excited to save for themselves for Christmas or other special occasions.
Open your mind to a world of creating wonderful holiday memories and gifts that won’t start your year in a bad place financially. Holiday time should not be so stressful wishing you should have went to sleep instead of Black Friday shopping. Drink hot chocolate, get bundled up and make memories for the holidays.
Don't be the one that comes into the New Year overextended, exhausted, and more in debt.