It’s that time of year again. Retailers bombard us with ads, urging us to take out our wallets and spend, spend, spend.
We all know how hard it is to ignore some of the deals.
But these temptations can lead to big trouble after Christmas when inflated credit card bills and deflated savings accounts make us wonder why we listened.
Still, you can avoid a financial hangover altogether by remembering two words: focus and friction.
Focus on what’s important
One of the best ways to avoid overspending is to focus on the meaning behind the holiday season. Family and friends are at the heart of the holidays, so make them a priority without spending a cent.
Try making a list of family and friends and reach out to them with a visit, call, or simply a text message. Tell them you’re thinking about them and can’t wait to see them again.
And do it more than once.
This is the best gift you can give because the receiver knows you spent something on them that you can never get back, your time.
If you are fortunate enough to be around family and friends during the holiday season, get together with them and enjoy some free things about the season. A simple car ride to look at holiday lights or watching a holiday parade builds memories no gift can replace.
Of course, there are always those who need help during the holidays.
Many people equate the season with donating money, and that’s good. But it can be even more than that.
This season, try giving away some of your time too. A quick Google scan will reveal plenty of charities that need hands-on volunteers to help.
And when you volunteer, you’re not shopping!
Get in your way
You’ll need to shop for gifts, but pausing before you buy is critical in avoiding overspending. The best way to do that is to create friction between you and that purchase.
One way is with physical limits. Freezing credit cards in water is a time-tested trick that works. While it is thawing out, you get time to think about if the purchase is necessary and how much you can afford.
Another physical trick is to use cash for purchases.
Budget what you want to spend at Christmas and put a set amount of cash in an envelope. Watching the cash stockpile dwindle is a reminder about how much you are spending. The other perk is, once the money is gone, the spending stops.
Sometimes physical friction won’t help in our online world, especially if your shopping apps have all your buying information.
The best thing to do here is to combine physical and technological friction. First, try the tips mentioned earlier. Then get rid of any online retail apps and eliminate buying information from any online vendors you use.
Those two things will go a long way in giving you time to think before you buy.
That’s it! Adding a little focus and friction to your holiday season will help you slow down and enjoy the season without all the regret in January.