‘Tis the Season to Be… Smart about Your Spending

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The holidays mean you’re finally getting to spend quality time with your loved ones, host that big family dinner, visit your relatives, travel, or help a good cause. Not to mention the presents!

It also means temptation, and lots of it. You find yourself bombarded with ads for all sorts of “must-have” items, from drones to the new version of your mobile phone, TVs, gadgets in every shape and color, travel packages, concerts – and chocolate!

Eventually, you get caught up in a cycle of “buying” instead of “giving” and you inevitably end up spending more than you had planned – sometimes on things you didn’t even need. Before you know it, you have lost sight of what really matters, plus you are now tight on money.

Fortunately, you can still try to avoid the holidays’ financial stress this year by following these 6 simple tips:


1. Find out what you can afford

Most people write a wish list of “perfect” gifts and “expensive” food or events, then go out of their way to see how they can get them.

Instead, start by calculating how much you can afford to spend and set a maximum budget for food, gifts, charitable donations, and other expenses. Then work your way down by priority.


2. Track your spending

A budget is important… but keeping track of it is more important – and challenging.

Even technical reasons get in your way. After all, you have to reconcile a) your holiday budget (probably on an Excel spreadsheet or a mobile app) with b) the money available on your debit or credit card (or in cash), and c) your current holiday spending (which is either on separate receipts or in your account statement that also includes non-holiday expenses).

Some people open a separate account just for their holiday budget in order to better monitor their spending. Does your bank make it convenient for you to choose that option? Well, that's what the "Goals" and "Spendings" features on the Saradar Bank new app are all about.


3. Get rid of stuff you already have

Did you ever use that second pair of earphones you got for your birthday? What about that fancy hat you never wore?

Why not sell these things on online secondhand platforms? This is the time of year when you can actually use this money. Otherwise, you could re-gift these items (and save the cost of new presents), or donate them to charity.


4. Stick to your list

Never walk into a store without a shopping list. When you are done with your list, stop shopping – even if there’s money left over.

More importantly, ignore “discounted” items that aren’t on your list (even if they sound amazing). You aren’t saving money if you’re spending it on things that weren’t in your budget. Say you only wanted one bottle of wine, you don’t need to buy two to get a third one free.

Many of these deals will still be here after the holidays, or they will return during the next sales event. Some of them will be even cheaper by then.


5. Team up to get presents

Sure, it’s the thought that counts, but the truth is that every year people probably get one or two presents they actually needed or wanted… and a whole bunch of other stuff they could definitely do without.

Try encouraging friends and relatives to all chip in and buy someone a valuable present they will really like. If you’re not sure, get them a gift voucher or cash money so they won’t have to return, re-gift, or donate your present.

Remember, giving presents is not a competition, especially with children. What matters is that your nephew enjoys his new Xbox, not who bought it.


6. Plan ahead for next year

Even if you succeed in limiting your spending this holiday season (and I hope you do), you can always do better next year. Maybe you can start saving early and open another bank account (or put money under your mattress if you prefer). Maybe you should take advantage of seasonal sales during the year and buy some presents early.

If you don’t succeed (let’s face it, it has become a holiday tradition to end up broke in January) then that’s ok. The joy you spread around you should make it all worthwhile.


Happy shopping!

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