SHOPPING? HANG ONTO YOUR WALLET AND
DON’T BREAK THE BANK!
We’re going to shop and spend this season. We do every season. Unfortunately, we often overspend and, when the bills come in, we suffer a serious case of holiday blues, or buyer’s remorse. Sometimes, both and more.
So let’s look at a few easy things we can do to hang onto our wallets and not break the bank. We need to do what we need to do, but we don’t have to hurt ourselves (and our families) to do it.
Set a budget. Decide what you can reasonably spend, including holiday meals, gifts, charitable contributions—all of the extra expenses you have this time of year. Whatever that budget is, stick to it.
Rather than using credit cards—it’s so easy to forget this or that purchase, and end up over budget—get a card and put your budgeted funds on it. When it’s gone, it’s gone, so make sure you prioritize your spending. Buy the essentials first, or earmark the money for them first. Then buy what you consider most important and work down your list to the least important. If you run out of money before list, you’ve got the main things covered. And you can get creative and do meaningful but no cost gifts to the remainder of your list.
Another alternative to the dedicated card is an envelope with the budget money in it. I don’t typically recommend cash because if you lose it, it’s gone. But I did have a friend once who had a big envelope that held small envelopes. Each small envelope was dedicated to a specific person or a specific necessity, like food money for holiday meals. The budget was divided and the portion of funds allotted was put in the individual small envelopes. It worked. She didn’t go over budget. But if you choose this option, do be really careful with that cash!
Keep a list of what you need to spend and where, and what you have spent and where. This way, you’re mindful all the time of what is done and what’s left to be done, but also what you have left in the budget to do what needs to be done.
It’s easy to say you’ll add items later, but this is a busy season, and too often purchases slip the mind. Next thing you know, you’re over budget—or you discover at a really inopportune time you’ve forgotten someone important. A simple “Get” and “Got” list where you track your money will keep you on target.
Keep all your receipts in a single place. Tuck a Ziploc bag into your purse for them. An envelope. Assign a special spot in your wallet for them. But keep all the receipts in one place. It makes it easy for returns or exchanges and for double-checking your spending or purchases. And it negates needing to dig and hunt for them—a time-saver!
These might sound like simple ways to hang onto your wallet and not break your personal bank—and they are. But they’re also effective and proven. Remember, the objective isn’t to make the way we handle this so complex it doesn’t get done. Undone, it can’t work. The objective is to make hanging onto our wallets and not having buyer’s remorse or holiday blues because we’ve overspent—again.
Yes, it takes a little effort. Yes, it’s tempting to buy “just one more thing” because it’s on sale and such a good deal. But before we indulge, we need to pause and imagine January. When the bill comes in. Do this preparation work, and when we get those bills, we’re not shell-shocked at what we’ve actually spent. There are no surprises.
I’ll take hanging onto the wallet and not breaking the bank over suffering shell-shock and having to dig out financially any day. I imagine you like it much better, too. We want to relax and enjoy the season. Not cringe and hyperventilate before, during or after it.
© 2015, Vicki Hinze. Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is The Marked Bride, Shadow Watchers, Book 1. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact.www.vickihinze.com. Subscribe to Vicki’s Newsletter.