Ashton Kutcher is the king of obscure but reasonably cool movies. One of those movies is a dark thriller called The Butterfly Effect where the title character (Kutcher) has the ability to go back in time and uses this ability with horrible results. So what does the Butterfly Effect have to do with holiday spending?
Every year we hear stories about people who wish they could go back in time and fix their financial mistakes — especially when it comes to their holiday spending. After the initial flurry of wrapping paper is ripped off of packages, and the first round of playing with their new toys is done most parents find themselves watching their small children just as happily playing with the cardboard boxes their presents originally came in.
Managing holiday spending
Sometimes you wish you could go back in time and do over a bad decision. But you can’t. How do you manage holiday spending so that you don’t regret what you purchased?
If you’re really organized and are good at planning and logistics, start purchasing your holiday gifts on Boxing Day which is what the English call the day after Christmas. The key to using this strategy is to remember where you put your gifts and to whom each gift is going to.
Create a budget and a list of who will be receiving gifts from you this holiday season. When making this list be honest about what you can afford and stay focused on your financial goals. You don’t want to wish for a “do over” in July because you spent too much in December.
Also, none of us have the ability to go back in time and fix our spending mistakes, so try to work hard to avoid making those mistakes and having to deal with the aftermath later.
Holiday spending with cash only
Use cash only. If you use a cash budget for holiday spending, you’re creating a buffer between you and spending disaster. It’s difficult to fail financially when you create and implement a well thought out financial plan.
Create a different type of giving plan. One that doesn’t include debt, extreme consumerism, and helps you to avoid making overly enthusiastic yet badly thought out purchases.
Avoid making holiday spending mistakes that will continue to have a ripple affect in your financial future. Unlike Kutcher’s character in the Butterfly Effect, we aren’t able to go back in time to fix our mistakes.
Don’t become one of the people still paying off their Christmas spending six, eight, or ten months after Christmas. The holidays shouldn’t be about debt. They should be about spending time with the ones you love, watching sports or the dog show, eating great food, playing games and focusing on being grateful for what you have.
Don’t get sucked into the spending trap that many people find themselves in after an exhaustive weekend of Black Friday related shopping. Some sales may be final or the items that you purchased may be difficult to return. Don’t put yourself in the position of having to deal with those issues.
Michelle Jackson is a personal finance and lifestyle blogger sharing her story at The Shop My Closet Project. Her goal is to help people cultivate their best life. When she’s not blogging or podcasting for Girl Gone Frugal you can find her riding her bike, going for coffee, or hiking in the mountains.