As Christmas rolls around and sales are in the air there is a sense of its time to kick off your shoes and relax since you have been working all year long so indulge in all the food and the shopping etc. Snap out of it though and take a step back. If you have been doing so well all year long in your finances do not blow all your hard work by blowing the budget with Christmas shopping.
1. The best way to prepare for Christmas shopping is to set up a savings account all year long that way you do not have to get into debt just for gifts. Most banks & credit unions have this type of account so talk to your personal banker. I hope that you bank with Credit Unions they are so much better for the average person.
2. I hope that you an emergency fund before you go Christmas shopping. If not then do not spend the money on Christmas gifts and save it up for rainy days. It is better to be safe than sorry. Buy cards that say Merry Christmas and your friends will understand. There are plenty other occasions such as birthdays to show them that you care. What really is the point of buying fabulous gifts then your car has a problem two weeks later and you need to borrow from family and worse you are remorseful about the gifts? No point to that.
3. Why not buy Christmas gifts the day after Christmas? They will be heavily discounted and your children and nieces and nephews will be just as excited about the gift as if they had received it 24 hours earlier.
4. In this economic climate crunch I recommend buying practical gifts. You may for example buy your friend a subscription to their favorite magazine they will actually use the gift and will appreciate it. If your children need jackets for school and new shoes or a bicycle why not take this opportunity to buy that for Christmas since you will have to buy it anyway?
5. Give gifts that highlight goals they are trying to achieve. If the resolution for 2011 is to lose weight then give your friend a low-calorie cookbook, rather than a box of cookies or candy and chocolates. On the other hand if the goal is to save money then a book such as the Millionaire next door or The 9 laws of Financial Transformation which are appropriate to help them on their way. It says I believe in you 100% and I support you all the way.
6. Christmas is a joyous time when we reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ with family and friends and the importance of giving not just material gifts but giving what money cannot buy. If you just want to help the economy and have saved for it then go ahead and shop and give to those who mean so much to you.
Have a Merry Christmas & financially prosperous New Year to you.
Published in FabAfrique Magazine in 2011