Are you surprised…or rather, ambushed…every year by the holidays, vacations, and buying gifts? Lots of folks take a trip, finish their holiday shopping, or get past the New Year and finally look at their account balances and EXCLAIM their costs were “a lot bigger than we thought they were going to be!”….yet again.
DON’T LET HOLIDAYS & GIFTS SINK YOU
That happened to us for many years too. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. At first, we made outlandish resolutions like:
“We’re just not gonna give gifts this year…”
“We’re gonna hand make EVERYTHING!”
“No trips for two whole years!!!”
Sound familiar? Yeah….that never really pans out very well. Now, we have specific steps we use and recommend to others to avoid that looney spending cycle.
1. Get HONEST about your spending habits
The key to this one is…drum roll… “honesty”. If you typically take 2 to 3 trips per year, start being honest with yourself about that. If you typically spend 5,6,7, or $800 per year on Christmas, be honest about that. You don’t need to judge yourself, just be honest about the facts.
2. PLAN your spending for 2016
IF you’re honest about your spending, then you know what to expect this year. AND, if you know what to expect, you can make a plan. Let’s be honest, this year will probably be, on a grand scale, somewhat predicable. Christmas won’t disappear, Christmas won’t happen in July, you probably won’t hunker down in a bunker in the woods all year, and you will have expenses.
So, if that’s the case, it’s actually pretty easy to start saving for those expenses now in little amounts each month.
For example, we save a few hundred dollars every month for vacations, whether or not we have a vacation in mind. So, IF we decide to suddenly take that exciting random trip to Marfa…or Belize…there’s a few thousand dollars in there waiting for us. We don’t have to steal from our emergency fund, our giving bucket, or something else that’s way more important like car repairs or health costs.
Which, brings us to budgeting for your expected costs…
3. MAKE a budget
If you have a budget, awesome! We STRONGLY recommend this for everyone. Saving for your long-term expenses is SO MUCH EASIER with a budget.
It’s all part of making a plan. For example, Christmas…surprise, surprise…happens on the exact same day, every single year.However, for some ELUSIVE reason, Christmas expenses seem to throw us for a loop every single year, too.
With a budget, you can be prepared. It’s that simple. If you’re 11 months out from Christmas, like we are right now, you can start saving around 50 bucks per month, and you’ll have around 600 bucks by the time Christmas rolls around.
Life is WAY less stressful if you have a budget, because you can just let it accumulate in a line item category. We personally LOVE the online budgeting app “You Need A Budget” or YNAB, which lets you do just that. But, if you’re old school or…God forbid…if you’re not budgeting at all, you can just have a side bank account that’s designated for specific purposes. You could set up automatic transfers from your main account to designated accounts for a vacation fund, a Christmas fund, and other long term expenses. We always recommend using some sort of budgeting system, but this can at least help you accomplish the same thing
4. WATCH this video…
If you’re “just not getting it” after reading that, watch this helpful video we put together. It illuminates our savings and budgeting principles even further. Check it out by clicking here!