As November comes rolling in, the malls will only play Christmas songs and commercials on TV get increasingly emotional and family-oriented. This is your cue – the holidays are fast approaching, and pretty soon you’re going to find yourself scrambling to buy presents for each and every one of your friends and family. The problem? You’ve run out of cash!
Christmas is the season of giving, yet, it’s a little difficult to get into the holiday spirit when there isn’t much left for you to give. To avoid this problem, you’ve got to make sure that November is all about your pre-holiday season prepping. Follow these simple tips on saving and planning for the upcoming holidays and you’ll be sure to have a little left to get everyone something nice for Christmas.
Track your finances
Knowing what you spend on and how much you do is essential for making sure you don’t overspend. It’s also a great way to assess whether you can cut down on unnecessary spendings, or if you can find better alternatives to expensive purchases.
Tracking your finances should be done all year round, and ideally at least once a week. The old school way is to collect your receipts and keep a list of the things you buy on a daily basis, then go over all of your spendings in a notebook or a spreadsheet at the end of the week. If this is too tedious for you, you can always download one of many apps available today, which help you track daily and weekly expenses, and even categorize them neatly into ‘food,’ ‘fuel,’ ‘gifts,’ ‘eating out,’ etc.
Get rid of stuff you don’t need
Many of us have that trait of thinking twice before throwing something out. “Sayang, eh.” we’ll say to ourselves before stuffing a sweater we never use all the way in the back of our closet. While it’s great that we try to avoid throwing away something that’s perfectly useful, it’s also still sayang if we never get to use the item anyway.
Give your home a once over and set aside some of the things that you never or rarely use. Now, allot three boxes for your stuff – things you want to throw away, things you want to donate, and things you want to sell. Throw away the stuff that’s of little or no value, or stuff that’s pretty much falling apart. Donate stuff that can be used or recycled by the less fortunate, but make sure they’re not old enough that they might as well belong in the ‘throw away’ box. Lastly, put up a garage sale or better yet, put up an ad online for some of the stuff that are still in good condition. You’ll be surprised by how much money you can make on stuff you’ve been neglecting all this time!
Make a seasonal budget
Similar to your regular budget where you allot a certain amount of your earnings to your essentials, a seasonal budget helps you figure out exactly how much money you’re going to need and spend over the holidays. The simplest way to do this is to make a spreadsheet. Have a budget for Christmas gifts, noche buena food and Christmas party potluck contributions, Christmas decors, donations to your Church and solicitors, aguinaldo’s for all your apo’s and inaanak’s, and even bonuses for your household help. Having even just a ballpark figure of just how much you’ll be spending over the holidays helps you be able to do the next tip, which is…
Save up for the holiday expenses
When you’re setting aside the money to put into your savings account, allot a portion of those savings to your holiday expenses budget. This tip is actually best done at the beginning of the year, so that you have enough savings by December to not have to worry about putting a strain on your finances. But don’t worry, you’ll still be able to save a bit even if you start in November, especially if you take the other tips to heart.
By tracking your expenses, you evaluate in which areas you tend to overspend and which areas can be given an even lower budget to make room for more savings. By selling some stuff you don’t need, you earn a few extra pesos which you can immediately store into your holiday savings. And lastly, by making a seasonal budget, you have a guide as to just how much you need to save by December.
We’re throwing in an extra tip here for people who really want to save as much as they can for the holidays. Use what is called the envelope system. It basically involves divvying up your paycheck into three envelopes – one for food, one for gas, and one for fun. This lets you see exactly how much money you have left from your budget, and it allows you to see what really costs the most. You’ll also be able to see what areas suffer when you overspend on others,like sacrificing a few hundred pesos from the fun envelope to cover food expenses because you’ve exhausted that one.This little method will help you save as much as you can just before the holidays hit.