We are ‘oh so close' to the end of the year. So often we race to reach the end of December without giving too much thought about ‘how’, and then collapse into the new year with debt and exhaustion. We promise ourselves to do things differently next year and commit to starting fresh in January. What if, instead of ‘starting fresh’ in January you aimed to end the year strong?
Before you swing into holiday mode and get out that gin and tonic, have a quick look over your projected expenses for the end of the year and see where you can make some small adjustments to soften the seasonal spending. Ease into the new year with less debt and more energy by reviewing your year and getting clear on how you want your life to look moving into 2024.
Don’t overspend just because it is Christmas
Set yourself a budget for Christmas gifts and entertaining and keep to it. Simply don’t overspend. In fact, aim to spend under budget so you have some in reserve for unexpected costs over the holiday season.
Keep your significant gift giving budget for immediate family and reduce or eliminate gifting for extended family. Consider only gifting the children of extended family and keep your budget to $10-$20 per child or gift one item per family. Gifting a ‘share gift’ such as puzzles, board games or outdoor leisure toys is a lovely way to encourage family time and include everyone. Opt out of buying gifts for the cousins or neighbours. Bake a batch of gingerbread, pot some cuttings or make up bath salts and gift something homemade instead.
Gift experiences to your kids and yourselves and use these as your holiday experiences. It’s a great way to pre plan (and budget) for some fun activities over the school holidays. If gifting physical gifts to your young ones, consider this simple gift guide for children: give something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.
Budget Friendly Holidays
Rather than stay in a resort at peak season this Summer, consider camping or staying with friends or family for a few nights. Delay a longer breaks for shoulder or off-peak seasons when there will be smaller crowds and lower tariffs.
Plan for Tomorrow Yesterday
Get your calendar for 2024 set up and plan a budget so you don’t get caught out next Christmas. Start budgeting for Christmas in January. Open up a savings account dedicated to Christmas and Summer holiday expenditure. Try an interest earning account such as the Australian Mutual Bank Savings Motivator. Just putting aside $20 per week from January onwards will give you $800 in ‘festivity funds’ to use by the end of October next year.
The Year in Review
Before you pull the plug on the year, consider how things have felt financially. Most households this year have faced increased costs and as a result perhaps some additional financial stress. Take this time to have a broad look over your financial situation and reflect on your ‘net worth’ as the year comes to a close.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- If you have stocks/bonds etc, how did they perform this year? Do you need to reassess their risk balance?
- What expenses did you have that could have been avoided?
- What will you do differently next year to stay on track financially?
- Did you hit any financial goals this year?
- Have your savings grown? If so, how much in interest did you earn?
Add up any extra you paid toward your mortgage and celebrate every dollar. If you have no intention of dipping into your redraw balance, consider removing any redraw amounts from you mortgage to reduce your overall repayments.
- Do you have any subscriptions or reoccurring costs you aren’t taking full advantage of and could cancel?
- Where are your credit cards at? What is your strategy for paying these down in the new year? Can you avoid using credit cards for the remainder of the year? Are you in a position to consolidate debts or renegotiate interest rates with your lender?
- Is it time to shop around for a better electricity, phone or internet deal?
- What changed financially for you this year? Did you have more work? Less work? Made more money? Less money?
Reflect on the wins and your challenges and consider what you can do next year to nourish your financial wellbeing and learn from any hurdles you may have experienced.
Make a list of everything you usually commit to between now and the New Year, from family traditions, neighbourhood parties and work commitments, to social and cultural activities. Circle the most fulfilling items which are likely the things you are looking forward to. Commit to these and eliminate the rest.
The most content people in the world are able to appreciate what they have in their lives already. They can cherish and celebrate their wins no matter how small and can acknowledge the abundance they have access to everyday. Before you close out the year, be sure to write a gratitude list of all the wonderful things that happened along with the lessons you learned. Also make a list what you are most looking forward to in 2024.
True abundance is knowing all your needs are met and feeling safe. There are so many in the world who unfortunately cannot made this claim. Consider how you can give back in some way this year before it closes out. Swap out Secret Santas for donations to charity, bring some Christmas lunch to an isolated neighbour, or give your time helping out a worthy cause.
Ending the year strong is more than just having enough money in your account. It is also having sufficient energy to enjoy yourself during the holidays. Take time out to simply rest and recoup. Stay in your own lane and be conscious of how you spend your time, energy and money this festive season so you can meet 2024 with a smile on your dial. For some more tips on looking after yourself over the busy festive season have a read of this article.
Alison Gallagher is a freelance writer, resourcefulness expert and entrepreneur. She has been featured in various publications including Stellar Magazine, Australian Health and Fitness Magazine, and Cleo Magazine. Alison is particularly passionate about sharing practical tips on how to live simply, sustainably and seasonally.