Holiday Spending Debrief
2017 is officially behind us. Bring on 2018!
The Christmas decorations will soon come down and be packed away (for us at least, some of you have likely tackled that part already. I love the lights and prettiness, and try to keep it around a little longer, hubby wants it all to come down December 26th. We’ve compromised to after New Years) 🙂
It’s a time of rebirth, renewal, refocusing. And a time to set your financial plan for the coming year. A time to review last years spending habits. (If tracking your spending has not been a priority for you this might be a bit of a challenge. That’s ok, don’t stress about, just start a tracking system for this coming year).
A review of your finances can be a great way to set some goals for the year. Let’s say debt repayment is a major focus this year, tracking can help you decide what you can cut and redirect to debt repayment. Or maybe travelling is on your New Years list, you can decide what you want to spend less on so you can have more funds for travel of some other fun activity/goal.
Tracking your spending is the single most important step you can take to changing your financial situation. Perhaps that’s your resolution this year. (fingers crossed)
(Isn’t it funny that you cook bacon and bake cookies? – ha ha … my 15-year old just walked in and randomly shared that with me, so I’m sharing with you).
Ok, back to the post…hee hee …
Review Holiday Spending
I typically start off the new year with a review of my holiday spending and set some goals for next year. Why? Because it is fresh on my mind and one of those things that if you lack planning, can lead to overspending and/or use of credit, starting you off on the wrong foot in the New Year.
I did something different last year. I started a facebook group called “Dreaming of a Debt FREE Xmas“. I wanted it to be “Dreaming of a FREE Christmas” with the use of cash back and rewards from the year, but thought that might have been a bit of a leap, so I incorporated the two.
Basically I set a goal for my holiday spending (gift, decorations, food, etc.) and posted an update on the 25th of each month (and a few in between) on my progress along with tips to keep followers on track for their holiday spending.
It was an interesting and educational venture. And it taught me a few things. The top 3 lessons were as follows:
- Keeping yourself accountable to others, keeps you accountable to yourself.
- Setting a goal and checking in on a regular basis (in this case, monthly) helps you to stay on track
- Sharing your successes and failures is a humbling act. It reminds us all that we are all subject to ups and downs with any venture.
The list above reminds me of how reducing debt is like losing weight. Doesn’t it remind you of a weight-watchers program?
- Track your food to ensure you are eating the right amount to your body type
- Set your ideal weight and weigh in weekly
- Share your successes and challenges at the meetings for support and shared learning.
I also learned that if I finish shopping early I am tempted to buy more than I planned. That was something I had to curb.
Here’s how my holiday spending looks in the rear view mirror…
My goal: $2000 (for gifts, extra food, entertainment and holiday decorations)
According to my tracking program (Mint.com) I spent a total of $2268 in the past 12 months.
Of that $2268, $233 was cash back rewards, bringing my total spent down to $2034
My goal of $2000 included the cash back redemption amount.
So I overspent (virtual slap on the wrist) 🙁
Now here is where my tracking falls short…I tracked everything under Xmas, and didn’t break out how much was for gifts, decorations etc., and my extra food cost is not in this total amount. Sigh!
When I look at my grocery costs for the month, I spent $1200 for the month of December – ouch! My average over the year prior to December was $900 per month. So I can deduce (wow! look at me using fancy words) that I spent an additional $300 on food for entertaining & indulging. Interestingly enough, last December I also spent $1200 so I can assume on a go forward that may be the norm. (It is so easy to pull the information when you have a good tracking program!)
If I add that $300 to total expenses, I am way, WAY off target. (double ouch!)
I also set some specific goals on what I wanted to spend per person and lost track of that, well, immediately.
(I never pretended to have it all together!) :0)… there is ALWAYS room to learn and grow!
So, now I have a decision to make. I either change my spending habits for next year or I set my planned spending higher. What to do, what to do!?
And that concludes my review of holiday spending…and hopefully illustrates one example of how tracking your spending can help you make better choices & better plans for the future.
If you’d like to follow along on my journey for next year, or better yet, join me and post your progress, join my “Dreaming of a Debt FREE Christmas” Group on facebook – a place when you can set your goals, check in monthly and share and learn from yourself and others.
As always, wishing you all happy, healthy finances!
aka Dr Debt