'Tis the season for impulse spending. The shops are brimming with bargains and a good chunk of Kiwis are looking to snaffle them. Will that mean going without as the holidays draw to a close?
It needn't. You can both spend, AND make your money last.
Decide how much you have to spend: Overspending in the holidays starts and continues if you don't know how much money is coming in, or how it needs to be spent. Create a balance sheet of income and outgoings. Precise figures stop you getting side-tracked.
Divvy it up: Money that is part of a budget/spending plan goes further. Look at last year's bank account and see what you spent from December 29 until the end of January, or even February if back-to-school costs are a nightmare for you. Once you have a list of everything you believe you need to spend money on (with an extra 10 per cent on top for contingencies) divvy it into categories.
Trim: If there isn't enough money to go round look for categories that you could trim or spending that could be delayed.
Track your spending: Check items off as you buy them to ensure you don't have a blowout. A good way to do that is to keep a spending diary or use an app where you enter amounts you have spent. When you reach your limit on each category simply put your wallet away.
Pay cash: Studies from the behavioural economics community show that it hurts more psychologically to part with the folding stuff than paying by plastic when you're out shopping. If self-control is a real issue then split your cash into envelopes for each category so that you can't fool yourself.
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Think twice: On holiday in Australia last month the sandals I planned to wear for the week fell apart on day one. My friends took me to a lovely, but expensive shop to find replacements. Even on sale many of the ones I liked were $100-plus. Knowing I had perfectly nice sandals at home I stopped in my tracks, put my money away, and survived in jandals for the week. "I need" often precedes a sentence about something you "want" to buy. When it comes to lusting after consumer goods, ask yourself if it's part of the plan.
Buy one not two: Don't think: "at that price I should buy two" or "but it's buy one get one half price". Two, however, is one and a half times or double the money and if you don't need the second one for a few months, just leave it on the shelf for now. Another sale always comes along. Add it to a later budget.
Spoil yourself: Make sure your plan has some "me money" for treats. Spend time imagining how you can best spend that money for maximum enjoyment.
Create new traditions: Look for traditions of fun things to do that don't cost (much) money and set dates for them. That might be a New Year's Day movie with hot chocolate at home. Or baking something together you've always wanted to but never have. Google "braided chocolate star" if you're stuck for an idea. You could set a picnic date in January and all watch the sun go down. Families remember these events for life.
Go bush: Book yourself into a Department of Conservation campsite with no internet. Take your groceries with you, a good book, togs or tramping boots, and enjoy. It's amazing how financially beneficial getting away from sources of shopping can be.
Finally be thankful for whatever you have already. When tempted to spend focus instead on being thankful for the time you have with friends or the lovely things you own already.