So I started my Christmas shopping today. I know, I know…I have 21 days until Christmas and that time will get away from me before I know it. Now for those who know me, procrastination is not in my DNA. It causes unnecessary stress and I don’t do stress well. I wanted to approach this holiday shopping season differently, as doing the same things over and over likely won’t produce different results. This year, I want to be the financial change I want to see. I like to think of this strategy I have been formulating as “planned procrastination.” I have a huge goal in mind and I don’t know if I will meet it, but I’m sure going to try. This year, I plan to do my holiday shopping completely with cash.
First thoughts, “AAAHH!!,” “How Sway….How?!?”…Second thoughts “Tiff, do you really want to deal with the “Ghost of Christmas Past Purchases” aka January credit card bills, and incorporate the higher payments into your new year financial plan?” Jingle Hellz No!! So this year, I’m going to roll with cash and here are a few ways that will assist me in accomplishing this goal.
Make a Christmas list – Preparation is key. This year I know what I want to buy everyone. When I know what I want to buy, as compared to just aimlessly walking the malls and stores buying as I see things, it helps because it lowers the risk of me overspending (except when it comes to my little 1 year old munchkin. There’s no lowering that spending risk).
Secret Santas – I have a pretty decent sized family and over the years, we all have continued expanding purchases and buying each other gifts. Now as thoughtful and loving as this tradition has become, it’s become expensive. So this year, we pulled names, got each person to list three gift ideas that cost around $100, and set a $100 budget so no one gets shorted (note: whoever pulled my name, please feel free to buy as many of my items as you want…but don’t break the bank! Love ya!).
Review bank account…then shop – The only way this is going to work is if I look at what’s in my bank account before going shopping. This way I have the number in my head that I’m allowed to spend that day. Kinda like how Thurgood Jenkins (played by Dave Chappelle) took Mary Jane Potman (played by Rachel True) on a date with $8 to his name in the movie Half Baked. As he stated, “This is going to take some serious budgeting and maneuvering.” Agreed Thurgood…agreed.
Swipe then immediately pay off – Listen…I love a great deal…and these department store and general credit cards have huge incentives in using their credit cards for purchases including cash back, extra % discounts, loyalty points, and earned miles. In fact, I encourage using the credit cards to save as much money as you can. I used them today in shopping. But let me be clear, as soon as the transaction was complete, I made another transaction. I immediately paid off the balance using my debit card (using my debit card is more secure than having all that cash on me; same difference). This way I get the discount AND I have no credit card balance to carry into the New Year.
So day 1 of holiday shopping with cash only was a success. I am going to work hard to try to keep this thing going another 21 days. Each day I can make this happen is a successful day. I’ll let you all know how I did after the New Year. Hopefully you also incorporate different ways to “shop until you…run out of cash but that’s okay because you planned for it and completed your holiday shopping debt free!”