I can’t believe it’s that time of the year, AGAIN. Well, time flies, that’s for sure. The good thing about Christmas is that we all know when it comes. It’s not an event that happens one day this year and on a completely different date the next one, hence the idea of actually doing a bit of preparing and not leaving it to the last minute.
On the flip side, Christmas creeps up on those who did not start getting ready for it early and catches them unprepared. Have you exclaimed in surprise at the realization that Sunday is Christmas Day? Maybe you had to work this morning, or maybe two or three weeks ago you thought to yourself that you still had enough time to figure things out, and now you have to play catch-up with last-minute guests or travelers.
It may seem too early to be thinking about Christmas but a little forward planning today could save you money this coming Christmas. It might be some 56 days to Christmas from today, October 30, but with prudent planning and a financial detox you could celebrate a festivity that will not leave you out of pocket in January.
No one wants to be seen as unhappy when others are eating, drinking and just generally making merry. All the party and gifts to family and loved ones can be very depressing when you look at your bank account in January with school fees and other expenses staring you in the face.
There may only be just a little less than two months to Christmas, but there are steps you can take now to get your festive money in order and hopefully leave you with some cash in the bank for the January blues!
Go through your finances now, so you know how much you have to spend
This is the time for you to have an honest look at your bank account and see what you have coming in and going out. This is very important as it will help you take a rational decision on what to spend your money on and what to kick out from your expense sheet. Check out for that gym membership and charity or church standing order that is not necessary and cancel then as soon as possible and see what is a realistic amount for you to put aside in the run up to Christmas.
What I do is to list the names of all the people I plan to give presents to for Christmas; the list will include family, friends and business associates. I will then continue to review the list on a monthly basis to see who stays on the list and those that need to be moved to some other time of the year. I will then work with the list to draw up my budget and start buying as funds become available. I do not wait until the last minute to buy as that could make it very expensive.
Start A Christmas Savings
Every year from January I set out to save a specific amount out of my income into a dedicated Christmas savings account and it is done by direct debit from my current into that savings account and I make sure I do, without fail, put money into that account every month. If you are struggling to have a good festive period and there's always a significant difference between what you can save and the budget you have calculated, then now is the time to follow my steps and start a fund solely for Christmas.
Start a Pre-Christmas cut back!
Once you set up your Christmas fund savings account, you will need to get some cash to pay into it, which means you have to cut back and rein in any unnecessary spending. Why not just treat yourself to just one day a week with friends at Mama Ngozi’s Isi-ewu and beer joint rather than going there every night after work under the guise of allowing the traffic to taper off? The ladies might also cut down on the number of Aso-ebi they buy to just about one every quarter unless very necessary. Do the same with attending parties and you could be saving a lot of money into that savings account.
Shop Around for Early Deals
If you know what you are after, it pays for you to get them early. I try to buy and pay for rams and rice that I plan to distribute to family, friends and business associates early sometimes in October clearly before the festive rush and I find that it saves me a lot for January. Some of the ram sellers only charge me a token for feeds as they are happy to sell early to have money to buy in bulk for those that leave it till the last minute. It is a win-win for everybody.
Start Thinking About Next Christmas Now!
That is still a long way my brother, yes I know, but the savviest savers and spenders among us will be stocking up on Christmas cards, decorations, wrapping paper and even presents in the Boxing Day sales, meaning you will be well ahead of the game this time next year.
Now that you have read this, how much of your Christmas shopping will you do ahead of time? When will you start preparing for next Christmas? What difference does it make on your budget?