Where does the time go? I thought yesterday was just July! Well, the weather has certainly not helped us prepare for the winter. But, Christmas is coming soon and Thanksgiving is even sooner! That means spending on gifts for our loved ones. Spending time with each other brings such glee, and giving gifts brings many of us joy. Americans spend a lot of money during this holiday season, and everyone’s pockets feel that strain. It is vital that we plan and budget during this season. We must choose not to feel the stress of the season, choose the value of time spent together, and choose joy and happiness.
In order to prepare for the holiday season, it is important to plan how we might save money during Thanksgiving, our religious holiday, whether that be Kwanza, Christmas, or Hanukkah, and the New Year. These events are packed together, and we must be strategic with our travel, time, and money. Set those plans first, and then think about the money that you will need to spend. The financial educators at Prosperity Connection believe in the power of lists.
First list your anticipated expenses for the months of November, December, and January, including travel, food and gift expenses for all of holidays you will celebrate. Next think about and list how and where you can cut costs. For example, be sure to drive less, eat at home more often, cut down on entertainment costs, and use less home energy. List the food you wish to prepare, write out the ingredients, and search for the best deals. Do not be afraid to use coupons! After, list the people you wish to purchase a gift for. Prosperity Connection challenges you to choose simplicity and buy one to two items for each person. We also challenge you to spend less than one half of a paycheck on gifts to give. The next part is to decide what to get each person. You must plan each gift. It is now the time to start searching out the Black Friday deals. If you decide to go Black Friday shopping or Cyber Monday shopping, or Small Business Wednesday, please plan each purchase. Make sure to check out the reviews and consumer report on each item. Some items are not worth the deal! We all have heard of the nightmare purchases that seem like a great deal at the time, but were just junk afterwards.
Remember: you are not in this alone. If any of this preparation seems stressful or overwhelming, we at Prosperity Connection are eager to help and coach you through it. Set up an appointment today, enjoy the holiday season!
By Sarah Dlugolecki, MSW, CFSW