I can’t believe we only have a few days left until Christmas.
It’s official – the festive season is upon us!
Obviously this is good news for those of us who like celebrating Christmas but it can be bad news for our bank accounts and finances.
The sad truth is that many people end up spending almost all of their hard earned money during December and are left with nothing in January.
So how can you avoid going broke this festive season?
1. Set an intention (or decide on a theme) of what you want to experience during the season
I love having themes for the year or for seasons and then setting an intention around that theme.
The intention drives the way you behave and spend your money during the season (or the year).
My first Christmas in London, I set the intention to drink and party. And I did!
I had a blast because that was a conscious decision and choice on my part.
In fact a lot of the people I met that year are still close friends; I think it’s because we all had the same intention so the friendship was real.
But, as you can imagine, this intention had a negative impact on my finances.
A few years later, in South Africa, I set the intention to spend Christmas in meditation and communing with my higher self.
That intention led me to spend 30 days in meditation at a vipassana centre. This also had a different impact on my finances.
In fact the Christmas I spent in meditation completely changed my life and my finances; that’s how powerful our intentions are.
2. Align your budget to your intentions
Your intention will determine how you spend your money – obviously when I was partying in London I was spending more money than when I was doing nothing but meditating for 12 hours a day.
So you want to make sure that your budget reflects your intention – if you plan to party, buy clothes and/or buy drinks there should be a line item and a set amount of money just for this in your budget.
3. Have a fun account
Set 10% of your income aside for fun every month; do this during the festive season as well.
Withdraw the money from your fun account and use cash to pay for everything.
When we use our cards to pay for purchases we can easily lose track of the amount of money we spend, especially when we’re out partying for a whole month straight.
Yep, you guessed it – I’ve done that as well. Now you know why I love the Caribbean.
4. Keep saving
Just because it’s the festive season doesn’t mean you have to break good financial habits.
Growing up in South Africa I’ve seen how a lot of women would save diligently throughout the year and then take all that money and spend it in December.
I’m not saying starve and deprive yourself but I am saying the festive season isn’t an excuse to break the bank.
If you get a bonus or some other chunk of money, take half of that and invest it and then go about your business of spending.
Remember the aim is to invest and to have money work hard for you, so you can eventually stop working hard for money.
5. Plan fun gifting things with family and friends
If you have a group of friends you can do secret Santa.
I’m actually doing that with my friends in South Korea this year.
We all listed our emails and then another friend submitted them to Drawnames which randomly assigns you the name of the person you’ll be buying a gift for. The cool thing is people can also create a wish list on there so you have a rough idea of what to get them.
6. Ask friends and family to bring food and drinks to events
If you’re hosting events during the festive season, you can ask people to chip in and bring food and drinks for those events.
Most people love showcasing their culinary skills and it cuts the cost for you. And it's fun.
I love hosting lunches and dinners for people and most people will bring a dish or drinks without me having to ask them.
7. Sales are not savings but expenditures
I often hear people talk about how much they saved on a sale, but what they really mean is they spent money on an item without paying full price. They forget about the spending bit and focus on how much they saved.
There are a lot of sales during the festive season; again let your intention and your budget guide you. The aim is to change your spending habits and avoid debt.
8. Stop trying to impress people
Something crazy happens in my mom’s village, in South Africa, every year – people come home in December with flashy cars but in March those cars get repossessed, because they can’t afford the monthly instalments on the cars.
What’s the deal with this and why does it happen every year?
Simple - there’s very real pressure to show our family and friends back home that we’ve succeeded or we’re doing something worthwhile with our lives. Unfortunately, most of us end up showing this success with material things and buying things we can’t afford with money we don’t have.
9. Check in with how you feel about money every day
In my book Heart, Mind & Money I talk about the importance of spending 5 minutes a day looking at your bank statement and transactions and observing what emotions come up for you as you’re doing this.
Observe where these emotions sit in your body and then journal about the way you feel in that moment.
You can set aside 20 minutes every evening to do this and I guarantee it’ll change your life and your finances.
You can get a more detailed explanation of these concepts in the video below:
How do you plan to save and stay financially on track during the festive season? Let me know in the comments section below.