Thursday, December 24, 2015

Keeping Christmas in Perspective

The all-too-familiar question, “Are you ready,” is often asked as Christmas approaches.  As you prepare to answer, you mentally roll through the tasks on your long to-do list.  Doing all that’s required on your list is one way to get ready for Christmas but the other way is preparing yourself for the cost.  Christmas, for most people, can come with a high price tag, higher than some anticipate or would like.  The challenge is to set a realistic budget.  A memorable Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive unless you choose it to be.  Somehow in the hype of the season, you may lose focus of your dream list.  Think about it.  If you want a winter vacation, you want to ensure you don’t blow your entire savings on Christmas.  

My friend, Marilyn, is so wise.  She has always faithfully saved for Christmas.  A set amount is transferred every payday to an account called “Christmas Savings”; so when Christmas arrives, she enjoys the holidays financially stress-free because she is prepared for the cost.  When you stop to think about expenses associated with the festive holiday, the list is long.  There’s the  Christmas tree with its decorations and lights, the turkey dinner with all the fixings and, of course, there are the gifts.   Don’t forget the new Christmas outfits for your family and you.  Goodness, what would Christmas be without a variety of baking, chocolates and nuts? Your list may also include travel costs.  Lastly, your generous donation to the foodbank ensures others enjoy Christmas too.

Saving and spending should be coordinated smartly.  Saving with the intention to spend the money on a special occasion like Christmas is a smart strategy which requires honesty. First, you need to be honest with yourself. How much can you realistically spend when you consider all your financial obligations, loan payments, living expenses, and other reasons for savings, retirement or children’s education?  Second, you need to be honest with others, your family and friends.  Too often, you may feel pressured to spend more on Christmas gifts than what you can afford or even what you want. 

Everyone’s perspective on Christmas is entirely different.  Some enjoy lavishly spoiling loved ones with gifts because they can while others prefer to celebrate with a greater emphasis on the time spent together with family and friends.  However you spend this joyous season, you want a Christmas which is memorable and enjoyable without the burden of wondering how you will pay for it. Christmas was never intended to be burdensome. 

As you complete those final touches in preparation for this important holiday, take a moment to reflect on your feelings. If you have managed your Christmas on a realistic budget, congratulate yourself.  If you need to promise yourself that next year you will do better, then create a plan.  There isn’t a better time to make a promise than at the start of a new year.  

Merry Christmas!

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