3 tips to organise yourself and your finances so you can enjoy the holiday season.
How are you feeling after the last holiday season? A little burnt out? Ready for another holiday?
Even though we’re at the start of the year, soon enough, the office doors will close for Christmas and for a while you’ll enjoy reconnecting with family, eating just a little more than you should and unwinding from that end-of-year deadline stress.
By the time the holidays roll around, you’ve been balancing your personal finances for gift buying as well as dealing with everything else life throws at you. It’s not uncommon to feel stressed, tired and more than ready for a break. But the last months of the year shouldn’t have to be crunch time, just so you can enjoy a week or two of festivities. This year, find a way to live with your money all year round, rather than working to live in the run-up to Christmas.
1. Build a financial plan for the holiday period
Having a financial plan in place is about more than just budgeting. A comprehensive financial plan is about aligning your income and expenses with your values and goals. While a budget is important, it focuses primarily on money out and money in. Meanwhile, your financial plan should address what you’re achieving with your money. Are you growing your wealth and is your spending contributing to or harming your happiness?
You should have a financial plan in place throughout the year, but during the holiday period it becomes particularly important. Almost half of Australian parents surveyed by Groupon indicated money was their biggest cause of stress in the lead-up to Christmas. Micro-managing a budget, checking your expenses daily and fretting over your spending is a one-way ticket to financial burnout, especially when you’re also managing year-end work. Instead, constructing a financial plan in advance of the holidays ensures you’ve considered your allowances for gifts for the family as well as your own need to take time out and de-stress.
2. Automate your money to avoid financial burnout
Part of your financial plan should be the automation of your fixed costs. Many service providers offer automatic direct debit payment and may even apply a small discount to your monthly bills for setting one up. Otherwise, you can establish automatic payments using most online banking platforms.
Automating your money removes the manual task of going through and paying every bill. While you should still be checking your payments have processed properly, reducing the time it takes you to manage your money can help to alleviate some of the end-of-year stress.
Focus on family these holidays – not your finances!
3. Stop thinking about money – have fun for free
Lastly, it pays to make time away from your finances. It can be difficult to find ways to have fun between working hard and managing a tight budget. This is the perfect time of the year to look for means to unwind that don’t involve money.
Every day we’re bombarded by opportunities to spend, which can cause us to analyse our finances constantly. Avoid financial burnout by prioritising one hobby you can enjoy without stressing about its impact on your budget. Join a local community group, or visit a friend or family member (even better if you can do so without using fuel). Your local library is also an excellent source of free, low-intensity entertainment.