Plan ahead this Christmas
It is that time of year again. Christmas is almost upon us. The shopping season is at its peak. Celebrating Christmas has come to be associated with spending, especially with the hype surrounding Black Friday, Cyber Monday etc. There is nothing wrong with celebrating Christmas and the end of the year, especially when loved ones come together to celebrate God’s goodness in the passing year. Having the money to spend makes it more fun. Christmas decorations, gifts under the tree, street and office parties, a trip back to the village etc. These are moments memories are made of. I am sure we have fond memories of past Christmas and end of year celebrations. There is however one word of caution.
January is coming. The year has a way of seeming speed up after Christmas. The coming days are the last in the year. Before you know it, we are ringing in the year 2019.
January means different things to different people. For many, it is the month their annual rent payment falls due. To most parents, it is time to pay school fees, yet again. Some still have a balance to pay from first term’s school fees. For those with children schooling abroad, it is time to buy dollars.
To make things more interesting, many employers pay December salaries before Christmas. This means money meant for spending in January is made available to folks looking for money to celebrate Christmas.
If there was a poll to vote for the longest month in the year, January would win by a landslide. Thirty-one days seems like torture when you are virtually broke. It almost seems like not all thirty-one days are the same.
You need to plan ahead this Christmas
If you plan on a monthly (pay as you go) basis, you need to plan ahead at the end of the year. It is usually a good practice to have a long-term budget, especially if all your income does not come monthly. That helps you to even things out rather than take each month as it comes.
If you have a budget that covers both the month of December and January, it is easy to see a shortfall if any exists. By having a medium-term budget plan, you can see how much you can afford to set aside for Christmas celebrations. Hope for a bailout in January is not a strategy.
A lot of times you think you have enough money when you add things up in your head. It is when you sit down with an MS Excel sheet and key in the figures that the deficit stares you in the face.
When you tabulate your expenses for December and January, you may end up with a deficit. That means you have to prioritize as opportunity cost comes into play unless you have other streams of income. Do you want to spend more on Christmas celebrations and default in your rent or school fees payment?
Rather than bury your head in the sand, take control of the situation and make up your mind what is more important to you. By December 27, Christmas becomes a memory but your rent and children school fees will stare you in the face for much longer. The fun you had during Christmas will be forgotten when you have creditors on your tail.
Stick to your budget and increase your income
You need to develop the discipline of sticking to your budget. There is a way you can disburse your funds that you are not under the temptation to rob Peter to pay Paul. If your spouse is more disciplined with money, you can give them the rent and school fees money to keep. You can also place the money in a money market instrument and liquidate when you need it.
Not having enough money can be a blessing in disguise if you have the right response. You can figure out a way to do more with less. Comparison shopping can be done right on your phone. You can find deals with your phone, ending up spending less hence freeing up money to do more.
However, you don’t want to become an expert in finding cheap things. Use your ingenuity to also grow your income. Necessity, they say is the mother of invention. Not having enough money creates the necessity to put on your thinking cap and figure out ways to generate additional streams of income.
In a noisy world, sitting still to think and meditate will drive many crazy. The reality is that what you are looking for is not lost. If you sit still and connect, you will download the answers. Rather than think, many prefer to ask others what they think. Nobody can do your thinking for you no matter how much they mean well. Our brains were made for thinking and solving problems rather than storing information. Paper and computer hard drives do a better job of information storage. If you don’t exercise your brain by making it think, it becomes lazy and depends on others for solutions.
You will be amazed what you can achieve if you fully apply yourself. Rather than give in to the craze, do your thing and live your life on your own terms. What others think about you is not of your business. It is their intellectual property. Everyone has their own lives to live.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.
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