Top Tip for Christmas Shopping

If you want to start 2016 in credit rather than with holiday debts, this tip is for you …

Use cash, not credit, for all your spending between now and December 31.

The shops (and websites!) look fantastic at this time of year as retailers do what they can to urge you to spend. We’ve all heard stories of lighting design, store layout or music selection that’s carefully designed to dull your rational brain so that you get caught up in the moment … and reach for your credit card without a second thought. It’s really easy to spend beyond your means, but this can be avoided and here’s how…

Consequences of overspending
In my experience, the long-term consequences of overspending can be disastrous. I’ve seen this for individuals, couples and especially for families. The overspending fallout far outweighs the joys of gift-giving on Christmas Day and far outlasts the hangover that follows too much celebratory French champagne. Financial hangovers can last for months or even years, and once the rot has set in there are no ‘silver bullet’ remedies.

The main problem…
… with using a credit card is that you quickly lose track of what you’re spending, so are extremely likely to spend beyond your means. Every action has an opposite reaction, of course, so come the New Year your budget is going to be tightly squeezed while you pay back your debt and, if you’ve really overdone it, the interest on that debt.

Understand that paying off your Christmas spending into the New Year will really impact your discretionary day-to-day spending or longer term holiday saving. More seriously, it may leave you struggling with less flexible fixed expenses such as insurance premiums, mortgage repayments and education savings. Both of these are stressful, not only financially but also personally. And they can be avoided.

Advantages of managed spending
Our clients report that they find it much more satisfying to shop carefully and consciously rather than impulsively, adding that it results in getting better value and feeling more in control. By spending within your means, you also avoid the guilt and self-recrimination that can be the worst part of a financial hangover.

Three ways to avoid a financial hangover in 2016

  1. Use cash instead of a credit card. Check your budget ahead of Christmas and set money aside for gifts, travel, meals and other unexpected (but inevitable) holiday costs. Withdraw your allocated spending money, not all at once, spend it as cash and make it last. When the cash is gone, stop spending. It’s not rocket science.
  2. If you must use plastic, use a debit card instead of a credit card. With a debit card, it’s actually not possible to spend beyond your means. If there’s no money in the linked account, you simply cannot make the purchase.
  3. Come and see us at Collins Mann. We’ll help you organise your budget and manage your spending for this Christmas season and beyond. Our values-based financial planning services enable you to live a life of choice not compromise. You’ll feel the difference straightaway in terms of your Christmas spending, and your overall financial situation will benefit in the long term.

Call Russell today on 07 3251 3200 or email admin@collinsmann.com.au

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