The holidays pose a unique problem for Canadians and their budgets. As an incredibly expensive time of year, it’s all too easy to overspend during the month of December. It’s so easy, in fact, that your shopping habits can follow you well into the New Year. If you’d rather not arrive in 2018 drowning in debt, you need to nip your spending problem in the bud and leave it in the holidays where it belongs.
Only during the holidays are you allowed to spend as much as you do. Overspending is practically encouraged by friends, family, co-workers, and retailers. There’s the office Secret Santa exchanges, Christmas presents with family, the hostess gifts, not to mention travel costs, groceries, and decorations — all of which you’re buying knowing full well you won’t be working as many hours of the holidays as you take time off to celebrate.
The trouble with overspending is how easy it is to do. Once you surrender yourself to the season, you don’t spare a second thought about emptying out your wallet, draining your savings, and tapping your credit cards. While forming this spendthrift habit is easy, breaking it is much harder. Denying yourself the chance at instant gratification through online shopping, Starbucks visits, and dining out isn’t pleasurable—but it is practical. If you’re ready to make the responsible decision to clean up your finances in time for the New Year, use these tips to make it a little easier on yourself.
Saying you want to spend less money and then hoping for the best won’t help you get results. This vague promise to yourself is far too easy to break because you don’t know any of the details of your goal. How much less do you want to spend and for how long are two key questions you need to answer.
A budget will help you determine how much you can realistically save. It shows you how much you have to spend each month. If you comb through your expenses, you can determine which ones you can reasonably cut out. Unless you move, rent isn’t something you can negotiate. The amount you spend on takeout, however, is.
To help you meet your budget’s targets, use a list. A shopping list is a great way of keeping yourself away from temptations. For example, when you shop strictly from your list, you’ll avoid any aisles that don’t have the items you need. Therefore you won’t be tempted to pick up that package of candy cane Oreos.
At minimum, a habit takes 66 days to form. Many experts suggest it takes a lot longer, so you may not be able to shake your spendthrift ways as soon as the clock strikes 12. You may encounter hiccoughs along the way to savings, and your indiscretions with your cash could leave you unprepared for bills, emergency repairs, or an unavoidable visit with the vet.
Don’t be discouraged. Emergencies will happen. What’s important is how you rebound from disaster. If you don’t have any savings aside, research alternatives to a self-made nest egg. There are easy ways to get a cash loan that can cover these emergencies, and many of them are available online. That means you can apply and receive same-day funding online, so you don’t waste anytime paying off your bills.
The future is hard to predict. Bills, medical emergencies, and household repairs can happen when you least expect them, and it can be hard to rebound from these surprising expenses. Don’t make it any harder on yourself by letting holiday shopping leftovers affect the way you spend in the New Year. Leave your overspending ways in the holidays, and keep your spending to a minimum.