By Lucas Casarez
Certified Financial Planner®
Help NFN Grow
If your cash flow month to month feels like you are walking on a tightrope, I imagine the months leading up to December can feel like there are lions and alligators on the tightrope with you.
Falling or jumping off the tightrope may be very likely.
There are a few ways you can tweak your behavior in the weeks ahead that can provide you some breathing room and prevent you from going into debt for the holidays.
- Set Limits: It is important not to allow the Christmas spirit to bury you in a mountain of debt. Setting reasonable limits is one way to help you prioritize quality over quantity.
- Avoid Purchases Before the Holidays: Instead, save the wants for Christmas presents. This actually helps out gift-givers. If there is something you really want, why not let someone else buy it for you as a present? The same goes for loved ones, try to avoid purchasing items in the months leading up to the holidays, especially when they would make a great Christmas present; less is more!
- Skip Eating Out: This not only will help with savings, but it will help keep you a little healthier. The holidays are a popular 6-week stretch to set new weight records and not in a good way.
- Research: It’s probably not a shocker that I like planning ahead. There are a lot of benefits of having a plan: you can find a good sale, provide yourself enough time to use free shipping, and you will feel like you have more control.
- Make Gifts: Everyone loves personalized handcrafted gifts. The things that hold the most value in today’s modern world are the things that are most rare. Taking the time and thought to make something is one of the rarest gifts one can receive today, which makes it extremely valuable.
- Bake Gifts: Baked gifts can quickly become a tradition. Especially when they are holiday treats that you start thinking about around September in anticipation.
- Start a Side Hustle: There is more available than driving strangers around or slinging food door-to-door if that isn’t your thing. Even traditional positions may hire for seasonal needs: snow removal, holiday gift store, any mall store, etc. Maybe you are artsy and can create items to sell online, such as Etsy.
- Most Importantly, Be Present: Remember that word “rare”. It’s really unfortunate that just being in the same room with someone no longer means you are engaged at the moment. Actually listening and getting lost in conversation and creating memories is truly what memories are all about. One of my favorite Christmas memories was right before my wife and I started our family and it had snowed so we went out and found a random hill to sled down in the middle of the night, priceless!
In order to stay on track, you have to constantly remind yourself that Christmas is only xx amount of days away. Fight the instant gratification that we are used to and enjoy feeling accomplished when January 1st rolls around and you are not worried about how to pay off a huge amount of debt that you accumulated in a short window of time.
Lucas Casarez is a husband, father of two amazing kids, and a Certified Financial PlannerTM. He founded Level Up Financial Planning, which is one of the few fee-only financial planners in Northern Colorado. The mission of Level Up Financial Planning is to guide his clients in taking their financial confidence to the next level.
Have a personal finance question you would like me to answer in a future week?