Well folks, here we are. Middle of the month already. Actually, it’s damn near Christmas. Apologies for dropping off the map. I am at work again through the holiday season so I have just been on a bit of a tour of the places where my family and friends are for the last couple of weeks, and have been in holiday mode completely. But, my unique situation puts me in a place to be productive while the rest of you are enjoying leisure time and, after all, this may be one of the most important months of the year in which it is important to keep our financial goals alive and at front of mind.
So, now that I have had my pre-Christmas Christmas, and yours is about to get underway, let’s have a look at how I’m doing and how it may help you out as you prepare for Santa to come down the chimney, often exchanging you plastic goods for your cash.
Let’s recall that I’ve set some hefty spending goals for 2018. That is, by hefty I mean aspirational. Or tight as hell. I am going to aim to spend just $1000 per month all year on everything. Until now my goal has been $1500 per month, which so far I haven’t quite met, but have been close enough to be satisfied with my savings. This month, however, things got a little bit out of control, as they tend to do during the holidays. I had some additional expenses that I planned to be absorbing, but that were perhaps a bit more expensive than anticipated.
For example, I had my motorcycle moved from my storage unit to a storage option offered by the dealer, and they charged me about $100 more than expected. In addition, I spoiled myself a little bit, purchasing some new clothes. However, in my defense, I did purchase these two items from the sale rack, but they were still not inexpensive (one is a light coat I expect to use a lot and the other was a pair of boardshorts, which I use while surfing twice per day or more when on days off in Mexico and therefore typically replace about once per year when well worn). Buying things like shorts out of season is one way to indulge in quality, overpriced goods every now and then without breaking the budget quite as much as it would otherwise. Don’t forget that everything is out of season the follow season.
All that said, there’s really only one lesson I’d like to pass along for this season, as lectures on what not to buy are really just not as much fun while Santa is en route. So below is my one main message, and it’s really at the core of developing sound financial practices.
Just like in any other part of the year, we must appreciate the simple things. But during the holidays, there’s typically just a lot more things that are obvious to appreciate and be grateful for. There’s probably far more family, food, friends, generosity and love than there is at other times of the year. Harness that. Harvest its energy. Learn to let go of your material addiction and re-learn to get pleasure from real connections and time well-spent relaxing and loving. Then carry this with you into the new year – enjoy healthy home-cooked meals with your loved ones, or alone even. Eating should be a joy. Keep that in mind. Be grateful for what you have (shelter, food, friends and/or family) and focus less on what you don’t have (new cars, oversized and overpriced houses, and the latest upgrade to your perfectly good iPhone that you bought in a shopping-frenzy last year at Christmas) and your holiday season and new year will be abundantly rich even while you keep more of your money for your long and prosperous retirement.