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With the holiday season here, it’s filled with cheer and plenty of spending. The holiday season has turned into a time of the year where the quantity of material possessions trumps thoughtfulness and the true reason for the season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah; they all symbolize spending time with loved ones. This is the time of the year when stores and credit card companies make a killing getting shoppers to overspend. The holiday season allows individuals the chance to rationalize overspending and to dust off credit cards. These should be the days of Giving Thanks and being Jolly, Merry and Bright! Not Broke, Greedy, Stressed and In Debt. So who says we have to go into debt to enjoy the Holiday Season? Let’s NOT break the bank for just Christmas sake!
We don’t have to give in to the temptation and overextend ourselves financially for the sake of buying unnecessary gifts. So, here are some tips to attempt to get through the holiday season without any new debt.
List & Limits
Create a holiday shopping list, set a spending limit for each person and only buy for who’s on it. Leave your emotions at the door. With sales and deals in every retail window, it’s easy to get sucked into purchasing items that you never planned to buy. Using the money you have set aside in your budget, or using cash you have readily available (don’t use credit), create a cash-only Holiday budget – and stick to it! Keep track of your spending. Remind yourself of all other debt responsibilities like your car payment, rent or mortgage, etc. that will be still be due after the holiday season.
Pay cash, pay cash, pay cash. Christmas Savings Clubs and Christmas Bonuses are cash options that allow debt free spending. Avoid using credit cards and do not charge purchases. Buying gifts with cash will avoid the unwelcoming surprises, interest rates and fees that will come knocking in January. When the cash is gone, stop shopping and refuse to use credit.
Thoughtfulness over cost
Pay attention to family and friends and purchase gifts that make the person feel special. Pay attention to hints or comments throughout the year. And, do not rule out handmade gifts. Sometimes handmade gifts mean the most. Remember the cliché’, “It‘s the thought that counts”? Well, it may be corny, but it’s true. Put time into choosing the gift that the person wants, not the gift that makes you look generous.
Start Saving for Next Christmas
Christmas is the same time every year, yet somehow we manage to wait until the last minute to make purchases, often without a budget. Consider joining a savings club or opening a savings account that you can’t touch. By putting away $50 each month you will have $550 to spend by the time Christmas rolls around. Also consider picking up gifts throughout the year, which will definitely be easier on your wallet come December.
Buying gift cards monthly or every pay period is an automatic saver for year-end holiday spending. These gift cards can be used to purchase Christmas gifts for family and friends or just given as gifts themselves.
We tell ourselves it is fine, we will worry about it in the New Year. When the New Year comes we are faced with a “financial debt hangover”, where we then spend the entire year trying to pay off our debt, only to do it all over again! Don’t create new damage and repeat the cycle.
Cicely Jones is the owner of MPA Financials, a Full Service Accounting Firm with 15 years’ experience. Cicely has a passion to spread knowledge of financial empowerment by educating clients and giving sound financial advice.
She’s wasn’t going to let her son miss out on Donuts with Dad just because dad isn’t around. Yvette Vasquez from Fort Worth, Texas, made a second trip back home after learning about what was happening has her son’s school, to put on a semi-disguise. She sorta became ‘dad’.
I don’t know about you, but not only was she courageous, but I’m sure her son was just as proud.
Read the full story here!
Being a single mom most times does not afford the luxury of having additional funds, that’s a heavy burden when everything is solely depended on you. Single mothers carry the responsibility of taking care of the household, paying bills, grocery and clothes for the kids, and just MAYBE trying to save if anything is left. Child Support, Alimony or Government Assistance is not something every single parent receives to help, so it can be hard to be prepared for emergencies and save for a rainy day.
If you don’t have an emergency fund for unplanned events, you’ll most likely have to borrow the money or take money from a responsibility you already have. You know what that means? That means you’ll end up in more debt! Building an Emergency Fund will help you from incurring more debt but also create foundation of financially stability.
No two people have the same financial situations so your strategy to build an emergency fund should be catered to just your life. Most say an emergency fund should be the equivalent of 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses in cash or liquid assets; that consists of paying for housing, food and necessities at least. Or a better way to decide how much to store in cash is to think about how much of a cushion you would need if you lost employment for a few months.
To start saving, you must know where your money is going. So your first step is to create a budget or write down all of your income and all of your expenses for a month. Having those numbers in front of you will show you exactly where your money is going and the areas that you are spending too much money in. Know your monthly expenses will allow you to calculate your monthly take home pay. If your expenses are more than your income, your priority needs to be getting the two in line. You need to either cut your expenses, earn more money, or do both.
The most difficult thing at times is starting. You’re saying, “But I don’t have it.” I’m saying, “Have you tried?” Just start. Don’t overthink it. Just start small and do it. Even if you start with $10-25 every month or every time you are paid, guess what? If you are diligent, it can add up. Looking at a huge number of thinking you need a $1,000 saved up is scary and seems farfetched. But if you change your perspective and break down the savings goal to monthly seeking smaller amounts, it will become easier and less scary to start.
Save loose change
An easy way to save without much thought is to save loose change. Ask the family to collectively contribute any loose change from their pockets daily. To speed up the savings, include loose one and five dollar bills. Doing this daily will add up but should be your only source of saving.
Planning is a key component to saving money. Planning your day, meals, events, trips, etc. can all become cost effective measures that can potentially save you some money vs spending more money. This can cut down on gas expenses from unnecessary errands and trips, to planning your lunch for work and not eating out wasting money on food. Planning your meals ahead of time allows you to better plan your grocery list, which will also allow you to not waste funds on unnecessary items in the store.
Unplanned events are almost guaranteed to happen when least expected. So having a cash cushion accessible in case of emergencies is important. This may cause for a little sacrifice but it will prepare you for some unforeseen occasions that can cause additional financial strain. Being a single parent sometimes means it’s all on you. So why don’t you go ahead and be prepared.
Join The Children’s Museum of Houston in honoring the courageous heroes who have contributed to making America the land of the free and the home of the brave. Salute the stars and stripes and get ready to paint the town red, white and blue during Let Freedom Ring!
- Stars and Stripes: Create a splatter art silhouette using red and blue paint and patriotic symbols at Alexander Art Academy.
- Endoskeletons and Exoskeletons: Sort animals based on whether they have endoskeletons or exoskeletons at EcoStation.
- Sparkler Wand: Show off your American pride as you wave around your own Sparkler Wand at Junktion!
For more information, visit cmhouston.org