Now that it’s all over, well not quite but soon, once we have celebrated the start of the New Year we wake up the next morning to the harsh reality of a myriad of bills. We cannot escape the truth; the festive season has come to an end and reality rears its ugly head to throw us into the depths of responsibility.
There are bills to pay, rent, mortgages, school fees, back-to-school shopping and yes, even debts to pay. I guess some of us tend to fall into a vicious cycle with our spending habits. Usually the end of the year ends up being a season of weddings, celebrations, parties, family get togethers and ultimately spending. For those who may get the annual Christmas/end of year bonuses, it doesn’t seem to make that much of a difference in intrinsic value because that extra cash also seems to be spent on whimsical things.
One financial management counselor (names withheld on request), says that
“A family’s spending and financial planning patterns are usually to do with what traditions a family is sentimental about. For example, is it buying gifts for the kids and extravagant outings in December? Is it the big family holiday or travel? The family get together with a big feast laid out?”
We all do different things for the end of year festivities - and perhaps we should. After all it IS the festive season.
But there is one thing a family man/woman should not forget as opposed to the free-style living single bunch; we must adopt a form of financial planning and value clarification. In other words in a family, one must learn to prioritise and spend accordingly. Our spending habits should at least employ a degree of logic whether you’re a survivor or a millionaire. If not for the family’s sake, to teach the children, especially the teens, to be prudent in their planning and not take things for granted. It is a lesson that will serve them well in this economy.
Children and adults alike should understand early that it takes time and energy to earn. How to spend ones earnings therefore requires some consideration and is not to be taken for granted. As parents and custodians of young minds, we should try to make the children more conscious of financial matters. The world gets more and more capitalistic daily so people are conscious of what they’re spending, what they’re earning, what they’re saving.
Around the holidays, what are the main financial stressors? The most common are travel and gifts. There are also parties and night clubs, whimsical shopping in response to the advertisements that seem to flood the media and sometimes it’s the pressure of demands from family.The challenge is to decide what you can cut back on or opt out of, without feeling like you’ve either lost something treasured or like you’re being left out? Can you set a reasonable budget and stick to it?
What has worked for my family is the decision to take the emphasis off some of the spending, and putting it on something that’s more of an event. A family get-together that gets almost everyone in the extended family together in one place to spend a day or two together is a favourite in our family. It also helps our children get to know their cousins since we all seem to be living far far apart.
It’s not about the money anymore, the focus is on spending time with family and loved ones, sharing and catching up.We play and pray together and suffer minimal financial stress. Yes, we have a real food feast but spend in moderation because everybody chips in. Unlike past years, we do not spend the festive season stressing about financial recovery in January.
So as we head into the New Year, which is already on the horizon, remember to play, plan and pray - not necessarily in that order. “Everything in moderation” is my adopted mantra for the New Year 2014, and I may keep it for many more.