Ah, the first week in November… let the Christmas bombardment BEGIN!
The world has already transformed into December, even though it’s not, and I’m not here to complain about it… it actually isn’t really bothering me right now.
I’m here to say that even though all the rest of Christmas can wait until December 19th (which is when I do my shopping)…. the financial planning part can’t, or at least it shouldn’t.
Fact: Christmas (or any other holiday you celebrate) is gonna cost you money
I was talking to someone this last week, and we named a new financial concept that comes into play every Christmas.
You know that feeling when you’re shopping for a gift for your best friend, and you find the perfect thing… but it’s way to expensive… and then you say: “%$^# it, it’s Christmas”… and you buy it?
It’s called the “&$%# it Principle” of financial planning.
And it’s going to happen this December for me, and it’s going to happen for you.
Christmas costs money, because it’s one of those times when there are way bigger things at play than cash.
It’s about fun and family and joy and expressing love through gifts.
But most of that costs money.
What if you could work now, and give zero $#%@s later?
I want you to have those moments.
I want you to not have to worry about money this December, but in order for that to work you’re going to have to do some planning now.
Here’s my three step program to not having to think about money (much) this Christmas:
1. Figure out how much you want to spend
For step one you’re going to need a pen, a piece of paper, and some brutal honesty. Sketch out how much you want to spend this Christmas. How much on gifts? How much on travel? How much on special drinks with friends? What about decoration? What about food?
This will only work if you try to think of everything, and be as real as possible on the cost. Don’t worry about what you can afford, focus on what you think will actually happen.
2. Figure out how much you can afford to spend
Now that you have that big ole number staring up at you, let’s work on the income side.
How are you going to find that Christmas money?
Let’s go to the ‘back of the napkin’ calculation:
Look at how much money you think you can earn this month, subtract the rent, food, and other normal expenses you need to survive in November – how much is left?
Here’s where you’ve got some problem solving. If there’s a gap between those numbers, it’s up to you to find the money this November. It’s up to you to either cut expenses, or find some extra work.
This is why you have to work on this now, because if you do this math in December, it’s going to be too late to do anything.
Look at the real numbers now, and see what you can do.
3. Buy a prepaid credit card and have yourself a Merry little Christmas
Plans don’t matter if you don’t stick to them, and so I’ve got an idea to help you stick to your Christmas ‘budget’.
What if you spend November saving as much as you could for Christmas this year. At the end of the month, that’s your budget… if it’s less than you’d like, you’ll have to make cuts… if it’s more than it’ll be a fun Christmas.
Put that amount on a prepaid credit card (you can buy them from department stores) and have that be the ONLY thing you use to spend on all Christmas related materials.
Of course you can do this with cash too, but if you’re anything like me… cash tends to disappear.
This credit card is for Christmas only, and it’ll force you to be creative with your spending without touching the money you need for rent.
And hopefully, it’ll also allow you to spend on the things that matter this December, without thinking about your bank account.
A Merry Christmas starts right…. NOW.
Want some help planning out a Christmas strategy? Sign up for OFFICE HOURS, this week on Friday!
Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator
Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.
She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.
Email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org