At the beginning of the year, in my Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016 post, I spoke a little about the debt I was in and how I hoped to get out of it during the year. I am pleased to say, that with almost ten months of the year passed, I definitely have less debt now than I did at the beginning but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. At around June-July, my money problems hit an all-time low, with phone calls from my bank and the worry of losing my account altogether. It really helped me pull myself together but it was a mess I could have avoided. While too much spending and not enough earning was the main route of the problem, transferring money backwards and forwards between Paypal accounts was what really caused the red flag on my account. Using a short term loan company would have avoided all the hassle I had, as that could have bridged the gap when I needed money and didn’t have it coming in till later. Instead I had money coming in and going out every few days as my Paypal transactions cleared, meaning a lot of unusual activity in my account which ultimately lead to it being put under scrutiny and all my transactions monitored.
Having worked really hard, to get myself out of the mess I caused, it made me realise how much I didn’t want to get back into it, with Christmas around the corner. I have to admit that Christmas is actually my biggest weak spot, especially with the kids. I always want to give them the world and I know that sometimes I spend more than I have. Over the last few months I’ve found that one of the best ways to not spend, is to actually not look. Sites like Hot Topic and Disney Store, my two biggest weaknesses, are best to just avoid altogether and therefore not be tempted to spend. However at Christmas time, its all about browsing the shops – whether online or in person. To avoid getting into a mess, I’ve set my mind to a few certain things.
Making a list in advance and adding up the total, even before buying.
It’s hard to decide how much to spend on a person at Christmas, especially a child. I always see so many things for my best friends, my partner and my kids – making it hard to pick just one or two things to get and not go completely over budget. However this year as neither of the girls have much they want, I’m setting myself on gift vouchers and the odd gift as I think about it. I’ve started to make a list of ideas and eventually I will palm off ideas to relatives and keep some for myself. I’m going to set myself a budget and not go over it – meaning I will need to swap things in and out of the list, instead of just adding things on.
Adding to a cart (or real life shopping basket) and then taking time to think about it.
It’s not as easy when you’re shopping in person, but I have been known to put the whole contents of my basket back on the shelves. I’ve definitely abandoned online carts without checking out too. Sometimes its good to go through and browse, adding the things you like but then walk away and think on it. Often I’ve come back and taken half the items out, realising I don’t really need them. Other times I’ve realised I need none of it and haven’t checked out at all.
Just because there is a voucher for it in an email, doesn’t mean you have to buy something.
Recently I’ve had a few discount codes and I know coming up to Christmas there will be plenty more, especially with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, not to mention last minute sales. I always open up the sites and see what bargains I can grab, especially with 20% off or whatever the discount might be. Just remember that if you didn’t intend to buy it in the first place, do you really need it now – just because it has discount? Also does the discount really outweigh whatever the postage costs will be, or if you could find it elsewhere for cheaper.
Buy as and when you can afford it.
This is really the biggest one for me this year. As much as I love the idea of shopping early and getting everything organised, if I can’t afford it then I shouldn’t try to attempt it all at once. While spreading the cost is a great idea – I’ve definitely started picking up the odd bit here and there – it’s not worth getting everything in October just so you can say you’re done, if it makes you hard up for November and December (possibly even having a worse knock on effect). With my work, I have a lot of stock to build up for a Christmas Market doing. At the moment, all my spare cashflow goes on that. While I do want to get gift buying and not leave it all to the last minute, I also know I will probably be better off, after the Christmas Market has passed.
I’m sure if you were to google “avoiding debt this Christmas”, you would have loads of sites giving you some great ideas but these are just the ones that I’m aiming for. I’m hoping that by being open and accountable here on my blog, it will help me not to get all crazy and blow what little money I have and not make increase my debt back to where it was at the beginning of 2016.