Five Steps To Win The Holidays...in July!

 
We are in the thick of summer activities with picnics, parades, parties, cookouts, and family vacations! It’s a fantastic time of year.
 
However, there is something BIG on the horizon that puts many people further in the hole when it comes to debt. If you’re not preparing for it, it could come back to bite you. For many of us, this is the absolute LAST thing on our minds this time of year, but the holiday shopping season and Christmas are only FIVE MONTHS AWAY!
 
Yeah I know, I don’t really want to think about it either, but if you want to avoid debt, now is the time to start preparing for the holidays.
 
“Brad, but why?”
 
Get this, according to magnifymoney, Americans with holiday debt added an average of $1,054 in 2017.
 
More than 50 percent of those surveyed said it could take up to three months to pay that debt off. And nearly 29 percent said it would take five months or longer. Yes, that means that people are still paying off holiday debt from last year as of right now, in July 2018.
 
And it get’s worse, an additional 10 percent said they would only make the minimum payments, meaning they wouldn’t be able to pay off the debt they took on until 2023! So much for the holidays being merry and bright! It’s more like a never-ending holiday hangover—you know like you get when you have too many brandy slushes.
 
Why does this happen? The answer is pretty simple. We fail to plan. Also, nearly eight of 10 people are living paycheck-to-paycheck the rest of the year, which means that many people have very little wiggle room to put away some extra dough for the holidays.
 
But, there are some easy things you can do starting today that will help make the holidays a lot less stressful, and a lot more jolly! Not only that, if you do these things throughout the entire year, you will find that your finances will begin to make drastic improvements, and not just for the holidays.

1. The Five Daily Financial To-Dos

Before you start setting money aside, you’ve got to know where you’re starting. Many people use the excuse that they don’t have time to plan or to work on their finances. I believe this excuse alone is what keeps more people broke than anything else. But these Five Daily To-Dos shouldn’t take you longer than 15 minutes to implement into your daily life, and they will make a huge difference once you consistently implement them. I share these to-dos often, you can check them out, here!

2. Make a List and Check it Twice.

Get started early! Prioritize a list of everyone you plan to give a gift to from most important to least. Determine how much you will spend on each person. Don’t get overcome by making this perfect. Estimated amounts are okay! If you’re having trouble, think back to last year—what did you spend? Consider if the amount is reasonable for the upcoming holidays.

3. Account for Other Expenses.

There are other expenses during the holidays besides presents—travel, holiday feasts’, going out to eat, decorations, trees, donations, etc. Have a plan and budget in place, so these expenses don't catch you off guard.

4. Take Advantage of Early Sales.

The beauty of having a plan and saving for the holidays throughout the year is you can take advantage of sales and pay cash! Not only do you get a chance to save tons of money, but you also get to relax more during the holidays because you’re ahead of the game.

5. Make it AUTOMATIC!

Check this out. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans were likely to spend $967.13 on holiday gifts in 2017. That number is more than likely to go up this year. If you saved $84/month, you’d have $1,000 CASH for the holiday shopping season every single year. $1,000 / 12 months = $83.33 a month. That’s a lot more manageable than one lump sum, right? Now I get it, if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, $84 might be tough to come by, but if you’re implementing some of the easy steps we share, eventually you can work your way up to this. Again, refer to step one, and you’ll be amazed at the results you’ll get over time.
 
Many people miss a simple concept when they want to improve their finances. If you want to get out of debt, you have to STOP using debt. The holiday shopping season isn’t a FREE pass. Take it from me, I used to be in a lot of debt and even relied heavily on debt to afford my holiday shopping. I can tell you first-hand that a debt-free holiday is far more fun and enjoyable.
 
It’s time to put that boring old excuse away, “Oh, the holidays just snuck up on me this year!” Christmas and the holidays happen the same time every year. Let’s win the holidays by starting to plan right now! I promise you’ll thank yourself in about five months.
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