Today we get to feature another amazing gal Rotanna Onyedi. She’s finally decided to face her fears and start writing so she blogs Here I recently got a chance to get to know her a bit on our JUGN fun trip to st Louis and she’s definitely my kind of person and I’m not just saying that cos she loves books
But I’m sure Rotanna will forgive me for digressing so. We need to do a read a book campaign… don’t you think?
While you delve into what Rotanna has to say …
The Christmas season is one of my favourite times of the year; infact it comes second only to my personal vacay; and rightfully so. Afterall, 🎵🎶 “it’s the most wonderful time of the year…”🎵🎶
Christmas can be an extremely joyful time of year for many families, but unfortunately, the season tends to cause us to break the bank by pushing people over their financial limits. Yuletide can easily catch us up in the spirit of giving and spending – sometimes to the point where we can cause ourselves financial stress. TV ads, newspaper inserts and online pop-ups encourage us to embark on the usual Christmas practice of “shop ‘til we drop” – or – days, shop-until-our-index-fingers-get-tired-of-tapping-in-details-online. We indulge in sales, deals, ‘buy-3-get-2-free’ and start to brace ourselves for the subsequent financial shock, when the debit card bills bleed our accounts red in the New Year. Over-indulging in food and drink is so often matched by overdoing our spending, with the result that the first part of the New Year turns into a damage repair exercise for our budgets.
Filling your home with the season’s joy, however, need not leave your bank account in the red. There are a range of things you can do to help you shop smart, enjoy the holidays and turn your Christmas into a financial success rather than put you in the poorhouse. Here are a few tips to help keep your season merry and bright!
1. Set Up A Yuletide Budget… and stick to it
People tend to think that budgeting means being stingy and not enjoying life; that is not true. A budget simply is a plan that shows you how much you earn/have, where you must spend it, and where you would like to spend it. Therefore, placing a budget does not constrain you from spending; it is just a plan that gives you the confidence and knowledge to spend on things you would like without going into debt.
Plan your budget ahead of the season and determine how much you can actually spend before you go near a store (even an online one) – not just for presents, but the additional spending on food, drink and socialising. Include everything from party favors to home decorations, and don’t leave yourself out of the budget. You may want to embed this Christmas element of your budget within the rest of the household budget, so that you can manage the overall Christmas spending.
Whatever you choose to do, keep this ”grand total’” figure in mind so you don’t overspend. Be sure to stick with your budget and try not to allow yourself to be pressurised – even by your children or close family – into spending more than you can really afford.
2. Make a list, Check it… and Check it again!
For your gifts, List everyone you intend to buy a gift for and re-examine that list to see if you can exclude anyone (I say this not to sound mean but practical). Then budget a reasonable amount you can afford to spend on each person.
Having a budget per gift and per person is not only great for your pocket but will also make shopping for the gift easier.
3. Shop with a Strategy
Many of us go a-buying without a shopping strategy – epic fail!!! Having a clear-cut budget is a great start, but it can quickly go to waste if you don’t have a shopping plan in place. From where to shop (whole-sealers, thrift stores, sales arenas, clearance stores) to when to shop and with whom to shop; these little things can make or mar your yuletide shopping experience.
Your best course of action is to outline a budget and shopping wish list, check the list twice, compare prices, look for discounts, adjust your shopping list to fit within your budget and maybe lean on an experienced frugal shopper’s advantage. That way, you’ll have your finances set, and you’ll have a strategy to get exactly what you need at the right time and best places.
4. Leave the Cards at Home
If you know that you haven’t mastered the discipline of shopping within budget, have had trouble in the past with paying credit card bills or do not see paying for items using your debit card as a “real spend”, do a cash-purchase-only Christmas.
5. Shop around, do you research and look for real deals
When it comes to shopping, further good rules apply. Shop around ahead of time and compare prices both online and in stores. Look for deals and keep an eye out for discounts/promotional offers. If you decide to shop online, be careful to the attending risks of doing so. You might find a great deal but don’t forget to take delivery charges into account and make sure you leave plenty of time for delivery.
Many retailers are discounting their prices even as the festive season gets underway and there are good deals to be had. Fashion retailers may discount prices to get customers through the door, online stores and supermarkets also provide opportunities to secure your Christmas shopping at bargain prices. If you’re familiar with major markets like Balogun market in Lagos Island & Lagos Trade Fair, and have got some time to spare, you may want to check them out for excellent buys.
Who hasn’t run out for a gift at the last minute and ended up paying top dollar for that gift? Don’t be that person who is shopping on the 24th (or some day around it) the last few days before Christmas.
Markets and shopping malls are dreadfully busy then which can cause shopping fever, which gets you to shop more than you should, or it would make you want to get out of the mall ASAP, causing you to buy the first thing you see whether it fits your budget or not. Moreso, when you are in a rush, you tend to be less careful and have less time to think about the meaning behind the gift because you are in a hurry.
Make sure that you have a list of gifts you are planning to purchase before heading to the mall so that you have a clear focus and don’t waste time browsing and getting urges to buy unwanted things.
7. “The Envelope Please…”
Have an envelope with you to keep all your receipts and gift receipts in, so they are together in one location. You can easily review what you have spent and you’ll know where to find a receipt if you need to return something.
You also need to monitor & track your expenses. So keep an eye on your spending to see whether or not you are keeping to your budget. This way, if you’re not then you can see where you are overspending and figure out what to do about it.
8. Avoid Money-wasters.
So you’ve taken steps to save money-smart during the holidays, but you might be still be habitually wasting money without knowing it.
9. Use Good Judgment.
When you get dressed in the morning, do you put on every accessory you own? No. Why? Because you’d look stupid. Now transfer that logic to your home and yuletide shopping. No, you don’t need that animatronic, talking Santa Claus plus every Christmas item around you neither does an overfull stash guarantee the joy of the season.
10. Remember The Reason For The Season.
Remember not to get too stressed out this Christmas season, after all it’s supposed to be a joyous time of year. It’s a time to celebrate the birth of our savior, a time to enjoy being with our families, and it’s a time to sit back and be thankful for all of the blessings that we’ve been given.
Don’t feel like you have to buy super expensive gifts. Remember, it’s not the gifts that are important at Christmas: Don’t think the spirit of Christmas is about “stuff.” You can have a giving spirit without having a negative checking account. So, take some time out of the busyness to just reflect, to be thankful and to think back to the reason we celebrate.
Don’t forget the reason for the season.