Years ago, when I worked as an account manager at Lloyds Bank in Penzance, by late January, the familiar story came from all those who were struggling to manage their money “I got caught out by Christmas”. Now this may come as a surprise to some, but even in deepest, darkest Cornwall, Christmas generally falls around 25th December each year. Easter I could understand being a little unprepared for, but Christmas, that reason always baffled me.
It is not just those who suffer from scarcity who struggle with Christmas budgeting, but also those with plenty. It runs away, we just pick up this, pick up that, another box of sweets, just a few more stocking fillers (regular readers will no doubt recall the fun of our visit to Poundland last year for Rach’s random stocking presents from the Squibblets). It is so easy to get carried away, spend too much, then the new year starts with the budget already under pressure and not really a clue of how we got there.
I am pretty sure that most of us know how much we budget for and spend on our holidays each year, but Christmas generally seems to escape us (don’t forget the crystallised fruits which nobody eats but granny always used to buy them – remember the round sweet in the middle all covered in sugar?).
So here is how to plan your budgets a year in advance, being aware and prepared of how much you will spend on the Christmas period – it all starts with getting just one card…
Here is what to do…
- Get a credit card – the interest rate doesn’t matter as you will be repaying it in full each month (the point of this is not to borrow, but to monitor easily).
- Absolutely everything, from the crackers to the mince pies, from the big presents to the twiglets, from the sausages on sticks to the replacement tree lights, all are paid for on this ONE card – nothing is spent anywhere else (even the wrapping paper and sellotape go on it).
- Each month, clear the bill. Set up the direct debit payment to do this for you.
- Keep a record of how much was spent each month
- Keep doing this right up to 31st December (as there will no doubt be emergency things you need to buy for New Year).
- When you now start to do your budget for 2018, total all your statements up and you will know exactly how much Christmas cost you last year, so can start to plan this into your monthly budgeting (divide the total by 12).
- When you review the total cost, you may consider some of the spending differently next year, I bet you will be surprised at how much it costs.
At Serenity, we want our clients to be prepared, at ease and able to enjoy every part of their lives throughout the year, not be burdened with unexpected bills or be wrought with angst that they do not have enough money to be able to host the way they would love to. It is amazing how frequently something small can turn into a massive issue – especially at Christmas time.
Being aware and prepared will give you the very best chance at enjoying a very special time of year. So off you go, get that first Christmas card, and know that next year, the budget will be well under control.
We will give you a clear vision of your future without the stress that comes from worrying about money.