With Christmas 2017 over, you may be ruefully looking at your credit card statements wondering how you spent so much money, and what you can do about it. The easiest way to get 2018 under control is a Christmas Holistic Spending Plan.
Vision, Mission, Virtues
I’m skipping the detailed vision, mission and virtues for this Spending Plan because December has become a more or less international time of gratitude, gift giving, and often overindulgence. And it doesn’t really matter whether Christmas is your thing, or you celebrate Hanukkah, (at) Ramadan, Pancha Ganapati, Bodhi, Yalda, Kwanzaa or something else instead. The important thing is to spend time with your loved ones, and give them tokens of your love and appreciation.
I think this will probably be a SMART goal; setting aside a certain amount of money to cover Christmas by the end of November. You might prefer to got Better, in the sense that you want to be a little more prepared and in control of events than last year. You could also go HARD, but to me it doesn’t have the sense of desperation that Heartfelt goals have.
Basic Spending Plan
We’ll use the same basic proportional plan with the after-tax monthly income of $3,435.
I think there are three main aspects of Christmas preparedness:
- Entertaining at home
- Attending seasonal functions
And all of them have a time and cost.
This is mainly a cost times number of people calculation. You might allocate more money for people you have more intimate relationships with, or less money for children, or just give everyone food hampers. Only you know how you like to divvy it up. For example, $50 per person x 10 people = $500.
If you will be posting gifts, you will also need to set something aside to cover that cost, and note an approximation of the closing date for the cheap postage so you can minimise that cost. You might also like to consider the cost of the weight tiers and focus on lighter gifts. Even if you buy online, and have the gifts send directly there will be a freight cost. Let’s say $10 x 10 people = $100.
Then there’s the time component. My mother used to buy a little something each time her pension came in so that by the end of the year she had a big box filled with bits and pieces she could put together into gifts. And you’d end up with lots of little gifts (which was always exciting); maybe something sweet, a cake of your favourite soap, perhaps a fancy new pen or tea towel and so on. Other people like to just buy everything on Christmas Eve, or get it done in August so they can get it in the cheaper post. Again that’s up to you.
In this instance, we know that we want $600, and let’s say we want it in October, so starting in February we have nine months at $67 per month.
Entertaining at Home
This might be an actual Christmas Dinner, or it might be one or more parties. To an extent, the cost of this depends on what you can afford. At the cheaper end that might be a few beers and some chips (say $50), or at the other, a full on sit down turkey with all the trimmings ($750).
Let’s have a party in late November for $500 – $50 per month. (You might want to pick a date now so that you can get into your friends’ calendars!)
Attending Seasonal Functions
By which I mean your work Christmas function, your partner’s Christmas function, both of your family meals, and all those parties and catch ups in the meantime. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
You will probably want a whole new fancy outfit for your work Christmas ($250?), and you might choose to wear it to your partner’s or want a new outfit for that too (another $250). Perhaps some new jeans and a couple of new tops for the parties ($500), and a dress for the family dinners ($100).
And when you go to the parties, you might want to take a Hostess gift of flowers, wine or sweets costing about $25. so let’s guess $150.
That’s $1,250, again by November, $125 per month.
That makes $235 a month for 10 months. And as this is a predictable annual event, theoretically, you won’t need to make special provisions for this by reducing your core expenditure on food, housing, clothing or operations. It will just be part of your savings for Happy Life.
And if you are wondering why you’d bother working it all out, well, that plus your $2,061 basic living expenses is more than the $3,435 you’ll be getting paid! Plus it gives you the opportunity to open a Christmas Club kind of dedicated savings account for it. Just pick the one with the highest interest rate you can find, have $235 of your pay deposited into it, and when the time comes to spend the money close it down. You can use the interest to buy something nice for yourself, give to charity, or anything else you want.
Christmas Holistic Spending Plan
So another no change Spending Plan. I should just mention, that depending on what else you are saving for (e.g., an overseas vacation), you may need to re-examine your Happy Life provisions or adjust you Christmas Holistic Spending Plan so that you aren’t over extending yourself.
I know a lot of people aren’t fond of planning, but it’s comforting to know that “things” are taken care of. Like when the action hero (in a movie) says “Here’s the plan,” and the other characters know what they have to do, and that whatever it is, is going to be all right.