Happy holidays, y’all! As of today, we are two days away from Christmas and a day into Hanukkah. That means that we’re SO close to being done with holiday season. And hopefully most of you have finished all of your holiday shopping by now. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the holiday season, especially now that I have my own house to decorate. But there’s a lot of pressure around spending money this season, and it can be really overwhelming. You probably don’t want to think more about money right now, but right now is actually a great time to work on getting back on track!
But there’s a lot of pressure around spending money this season, and it can be really overwhelming.
Review Your Holiday Spending
Analyzing your spending soon after you’ve done it is a great way to easily understand how much you’ve spent and what you’ve spent it on. Go back and look at exactly what you spent this year. Include things like baking materials, decorations, a Christmas tree, travel costs, gifts, and anything else that was related to the holidays. Ask yourself these questions:
What am I glad that I spent money on?
Is there anything I wish I hadn’t spent money on?
Was anything a waste of money?
Do I feel good about the amount I spent?
Would I feel good spending this much money next year?
Once you have some clarity about where your money went and how you feel about it, you’ll be able to make informed decisions moving forward. If you’re happy with your spending, you can comfortably budget for spending that much next year. If you’re not happy with it, you can decide what you want to do differently next time.
Make January a Low-Spend Month
A low-spend month is a fantastic way to reset and get back on track with your budget. It can also be called a “no spend month”, but I prefer to call it “low-spend”, because you still have to buy things like groceries. The idea is that you won’t spending money on anything that isn’t a necessity. When I did a low-spend month in November, I didn’t do any shopping outside of grocery shopping and necessities for the house. I didn’t go out to eat at all and when I went to the movies, I used a gift card. It really cut down on my Amazon shopping and other random charges that I wouldn’t necessarily think twice about. January is a great time to do this because you can start 2020 on the right foot financially. And if you weren’t able to budget for your holiday spending, a low-spend month can help you to catch up and pay off your credit card.
Save For the Holidays All Year
At this point, I’m a broken record about this, but it’s so important to save for the holidays all year. If you’re saving smaller amounts each month, you’ll have enough money to pay for travel or to buy gifts for your loved ones once the holidays roll around. And this approach is much more manageable than trying to use one month’s budget to cover everything you need during the holiday season. I promise you, if you try the latter, you’ll feel stressed and overextended. And very likely in debt. So look at the number that you came up with above when you reviewed your spending and divide it by 12. Starting in January, automate that monthly number to go into a holiday spending account. By this time next year, you’ll feel so good about it.
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.