The holiday season always starts early in the Philippines, and the onset of the "ber" month signals that it's time to prepare your wallet. Think non-stop get-togethers with family and friends, and lots of gift-giving to add to the excitement.
With a good three months to go, you have ample time to plan your holidays so that it will not be an endless unplanned spending spree. Heed these 10 tips so that you can remain bright and cheery all the way to the final week of 2016:
1. Make a list and check it twice.
This important step ensures that you don’t go broke by the end of the holiday season. A list and a budget will keep you within bounds, and alert you when you are going overboard with your spending. Your budget should definitely just be a fraction of your income, so make sure it does not go higher than what you have allocated for more important items such as investments and emergency savings.
2. Start saving.
Based on your list and budget, allocate part of your income each payday. How you would do this will depend a lot on your cash flow and individual needs. For instance, you may wish to set aside a bigger amount for holiday spending when your 13th month pay is released, while setting aside a much smaller amount during the preceding months.
3. Who’s been good to you this year?
Identify who you wish to give holidays gifts to. Once you’re done with the list, think of what you may want to give each one. Set a budget for each individual on the list. Check if you are within your initial budget after you’ve gone into details. Don’t think that you have to put everyone into your gift list.
4. Give yourself a gift.
While it’s usual to think about others when coming up with a gift list, make sure you don’t forget to include yourself. One gift you can give to yourself is cash that you can spend on yourself, or even invest. Use this “Christmas gift” for something that will benefit you over the long haul, instead of items that can provide you entertainment or diversion for a limited time.
5. Set a spending schedule.
Manage your cash flow by spreading out your spending in the next four months. If you have already drawn up a gift list, start buying some of these now. This will also help you avoid the Christmas shopping rush, along with the long lines and big crowds. This also gives you time to wrap presents and deliver these at leisure.
6. Reuse and recycle.
Don’t feel tempted to buy new decorations each holiday season. Reuse and recycle what you already have. Also recycle packaging materials. You may also consider non-traditional packaging, such as magazine covers, and whatever else you may have tucked away in your cabinet. Not only will this help you save money, it also helps you do something for the environment.
7. Check out sales and bazaars.
The run-up to Christmas almost always means the mushrooming of sales and bazaars all over the city. Check out these sales to grab some bargains. You may also consider checking the usual places for bargain hunters such as Divisoria or Baclaran. Also worth checking out are online sites, where bargains may also be found.
8. Use rebates and credit card rewards points.
It’s time to use all those rebates you’ve accumulated, as well as frequent user points. These are good as real cash, and will go a long way in helping you with your cash flow. Also look at all the promotions that your credit card issuer might be offering. These can definitely help ease your holiday spending.
9. Think of group gifts.
With time on your hands for planning, think about giving gifts to groups of people instead of individually. For instance, you may give one gift to a family instead of its individual members. At the office, you can also have just one common gift or treat for your friends--possibly a pizza dinner or ice cream date that everyone can enjoy.
10. It’s not just about the money.
Christmas gifts don’t have to be all material. In fact, the most meaningful gifts may not be material gifts at all. Spend time visiting a senior relative, or take your sister out for a movie date. Paint a pretty picture for a friend, or spend some time helping a friend with an important chore. These gifts will certainly touch the heart more than a gift in a package.
Grow Your Money is an editorial partnership between news.abs-cbn.com and Citi Philippines to promote financial education and provide helpful information to Filipinos on how to better manage their personal finances.
Visit www.citibank.com.ph for more information.