Decembers up! 4 week Challenge – Get you balance sheet into shape.

With December holidays just around the corner, literally about 4 weeks away, everybody and their mom are trying to get in shape for the December beach parade (what? You don’t know what that is? It’s where we try correct 11 months of poor eating habits and irregular fitness activities in 1 month, to get the beach approved body, so we can go show it all off with the rest of Joburg at the sea).

I’m being cynical here, but its true. I’m guilty of it, and so are most of you, our eating habits are not that strict during the year and it doesn’t bother us too much, but come December and we are like, “Oh boy better get those 6 pack abs out. ” (Like I have been hiding them in the cupboard for 11 months, and now all of a sudden they are going to pop out of my overly tight white V-neck t-shirt, all because I ate correctly and trained a little harder for 31 days? NOT GONA HAPPEN, but hey it’s worth a try.

So I figured, if we are prepared to put our bodies through a month or two of torture. Why not do the same with our personal balance sheet? After all, if you don’t have a well thought out budget for December and January, you are going to feel like Cinderella after midnight, you’re at the ball, but your ride is a pumpkin and your superdry t-shirt is a dirty old rag.

  • Think about January first. 

Most people get paid a lot earlier in December than normal, but then get paid the usual date in January, meaning there is literally more month than paycheck. While we may feel richer in December we definitely feel poorer in January. So start with your January commitments, before your december splurges. Ensure you put enough away to cater for your January fixed commitments first, you don’t want to start 2019  by having to eat “2018 end of year crackers.”

  • Draw up a daily budget.

Whether you are going away for the holidays or staying home, you will invariably be spending more money than usual, the festive cheer is about and there is nothing we can do to stop it. There will be drinks after work (or during) it depends if your boss has gone away. There will be extra long lunches and you will want to spoil the kids. There is just something about December that makes people want to spend money. So draw up a daily budget (whatever you have for the month/ 31, that’s your daily allowance) and then stick to it, if you spend more today, it means you have less to spend tomorrow, its simple maths.Once you have your daily number if it seems to small, well then you haven’t saved enough for this time of year, but you need to stick to it, the number is the number and the only thing that can change, is you, you can manipulate your lifestyle to suit your budget,not the other way around.

  • Look out for the online specials

December is the time for giving, giving to others, to charities, to family, and to ourselves. We naturally tend to want to spoil ourselves and others over this period and that’s not a bad thing. But be smart about it. All of your favourite brands/ retailers have an online presence of sort, and with black friday a week away (23rd November), you will be sure to find whatever it is you are looking for online, at a massive discount and if you miss out on the Friday, then there is Cyber Monday (26th November) to have a crack at. Bottom line; the retailers are trying to push sales over this period, so be savvy get online do price comparisons and you will definitely save some money.

  • Be realistic and prioritise

While you may feel and perhaps even look a little like Santa Claus, you are not and there is no need to act like him. In an ideal situation you have made provision for December and January during the last 11 months, but this is not that situation and rather a crash course to get you through unscathed. Make a list of all the things you want to do over the period, all the places you want to go, all the gifts you want to give, and then PRIORITISE. You see life is all about trade offs, doing this challenge is a trade off, you didn’t plan earlier on in the year and now this budget crunch is the trade off. Do you go for for the fancy meal, or buy the new bikini? Do you take the kids to the christmas carnival or get them the present they haven’t stopped nagging for? Trade-offs, trade-offs, trade-offs, everything we do in life has a trade-off, formally stated as, Newton’s third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

While these tips may be just enough to get you through the next two months, they will probably also help you identify with you lifestyle habits. We need to take ownership of the way we spend and behave and what better time to start then in the New Year. We all love making New Year’s resolutions, but instead of the usual, I’m going to eat less, train more, why not decide to meet with a flat fee based Lifestyle Financial Planner? Let’s assess who you are, where you are, and where you want to be by next December and the December after that and the years to come.You can get not only your financial house in order but your future in order too.

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