Two cents worth at Christmas

By: Mat Sturge

By the time this article goes to print it we will be almost mid-December and even the Grinches amongst us will have to accept that Christmas is near.

I love Christmas but I know all about the stresses it can bring where money is concerned and so these words will be my two cents worth of advice to help you get through it without the financial burden it sometimes brings.

There is good debt and bad debt. A mortgage is good debt and a credit card maxed out on Christmas presents is generally bad debt. Don’t feel the need to buy everyone expensive gifts if the budget doesn’t allow for it because you’ll end up in a bad cycle where it takes you all of next year (or more) to pay off the debt from this Christmas. That will make next Christmas very much the same, or even worse, because of all the interest you will pay.

In all my years of financial planning I’ve done a lot of budgeting with people who struggle at first but finally become disciplined and see the light once they go through a well-planned Christmas with the budget in order. If this Christmas is not going to be that year, then go easy and prepare for Christmas next year without the burden of accumulated debt from this Christmas.

Set a budget for this year and the next, and stick to it! I’m an emotional spender too, so I know the temptations when it comes to buying our kids and loved ones the best and most expensive gifts but just like the baby who would prefer the box or the wrapping paper, people often prefer your time and memories.

Maybe think about less costly ideas such as buying a game that you plan to play with them, or make the most of the beautiful beaches that surround us and create Christmas memories that are less focused on how much money we spend.

After all, money is a poor measuring stick of happiness so whatever you do this Christmas, try and avoid extra debt if you can. There will surely be a lot of advertising from those ‘easy money’ lenders tempting you to go the other way but it’s a bad cycle that some people never fully escape from.

That’s my two cents worth and that’s it from me this year. Have a very Merry Christmas everyone.

DISCLAIMER: These are my opinions only and do not constitute advice in any way. Please contact a qualified financial adviser for advice specific to your situation.

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