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Three steps to mindful spending at Christmas

Three steps to mindful spending at Christmas

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Consumption and Christmas often go hand-in-hand. It's so easy to overspend at this time of year without realizing it. The truth is that you can have a five-star Christmas on a low budget if you know how to do it.

The formula to achieve this is to practice mindful spending, aka conscious spending. What does it entail? Basically, changing the way you use your money so it is more aligned with your real interests.

By way of example, if you are passionate about musicals, it’s about reorganizing your finances to be able to enjoy them. Depending on your circumstances, this may mean extending the life of your smartphone, taking a lunchbox to work, or doing without a subscription that’s not so important to you.

Conscious spending is a very powerful tool that you can apply in almost any area of your life, and also at Christmas. Thanks to this you will be able to steer your Christmas budget towards what really matters to you and makes you happy.

Here are the three steps you should follow to spend more mindfully at Christmas.

1. How much do you want to spend at Christmas?

Spending on what you like is not synonymous with consuming more. In fact, the first step is to devote some time to thinking about how much you want to spend this festive season. In other words, be clear about your Christmas budget.

How can you determine the right or wrong amount based on conscious spending? Very simple: think about what these dates mean to you and how important they are. Some people really adore Christmas. Meanwhile, for others it is a time of compromise. Which extreme are you closest to?

Adjust your Christmas budget based on your preferences. And if you’re not sure, you can always try to keep to last year’s Christmas (if your situation hasn’t changed) and just adjust your expenditure. That is what you are going to do in the second step.

2. Think: what makes you happy at Christmas?

This is actually the most important step. Once you have a budget in mind, all that remains is to organize it around your preferences. In fact, conscious spending at Christmas boils down to that: using your money for what you like the most at this time of year.

So think: what makes you happy at Christmas? It might be gifts, dinners with friends, family dinners, walking down the street and soaking up the Christmas atmosphere, New Year’s Eve parties, etc.

Some people like to make their major annual purchases around this time, in which case gifts will be important to you; others like to eat things they don’t eat during the rest of the year; while some people’s main goal at Christmas is to return home and spend time with their loved ones.

Stop and think about it, and be specific, because these preferences will determine how you’re going to use your budget. Beyond money, this exercise will help you reconnect with memories and what really matters to you and fulfills you this holiday season. For that reason alone, you’re already making this a more special Christmas.

3. Get going: organize the budget

The last step is to write down everything you’ve thought about. In other words, make your Christmas budget. The way to do it is no different than any other budget. Namely:

  • Determine the expense categories.
  • Establish how much you will spend on each of them, in line with your previous thoughts on preferences.

Is there anything else you can do to make sure you meet this budget? A very useful tool can be the envelope method. This method was coined by T. Harv Eker in his book ‘Secrets of the Millionaire Mind‘. Although it is designed to streamline your monthly finances, it can be applied to any expense.

Eker uses six envelopes for the different items of monthly expenditure and puts the assigned amount for the month into each envelope. The idea is to use that money until it runs out. This is how you make sure that you don’t overspend or run out of money.

This premise can be applied to your monthly budget and any other budget you like. In this case, you only need one envelope for each item of your Christmas budget. If you’ve structured your budget well based on conscious spending, you won’t mind if one of your smaller envelopes runs out early.

Also, when that happens, you can always search for zero-cost activities for that particular item. If you’ve run out of money for Christmas meals with friends, you can come up with alternative plans at home, for example. And when it comes to gifts, you challenge yourself by making a DIY gift.In the end, this formula will make you more creative and give your festive season a different slant.

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