What’s on your calendar?
Are your holidays stress free? Or does your calendar look like a never-ending to-do list? This time of year can bring out a lot of different emotions. Other than family stuff, many people’s feelings now are related to money.
December is not a typical month.
Yes, there is Christmas. And along with it, there is the calendar of life. Even if you didn’t make the calendar, one exists just for you, and it is not stress free! On that calendar is the financial burden of gift-giving. PLUS, December is typically when local taxes, like property taxes, come due. Add to that homeowner’s association dues that are usually due this time of year. Equally important, it’s the last quarter to settle with the federal government for income taxes.
Here is the secret to coping with the holidays.
I know I’m in the financial business, and some would think I should handle this time of the year perfectly. But I’m not going to fake perfection. I am human and struggle with the same things you do. Being organized is a challenge for me. However, here is the secret to being organized and how I cope with the financial stress of the holidays.
A calendar is your friend.
First, making YOUR calendar with significant bills and due dates will put you on the path to a stress free holiday. In other words, make a personalized calendar and write down your important financial things. Here is an annual expense calendar template in Excel that I have found helpful. The link is to download the file directly from Microsoft. I have also used the At-A-Glance calendars and found them helpful too. If you like something highly visual, try the erasable wall calendar or the large desk pad calendar. If you want more than just a calendar, look at my blog post, The Easiest Retirement Budget Plan.
Second, I mark the dates for my regular monthly expenses. I start with the biggies like insurances; health, life, auto, and home. Then I add the quarterly bills, like income taxes; and the annuals, like property taxes. Knowing what you have due will help you be stress free around the holidays.
Giving & Saving
Along with my bills, I also plan for my giving and savings goals. I am going to say something that I’ve told people for years. And at times, I find it hard to follow my own advice. But I do my best to do it anyway. When it comes to allocating your money, if you don’t put God and yourself first, no one else will. But let me be clear.
What you give as a donation or tithe to your religion is up to you. I am not here today to preach to you😉. I also know from personal experience that if you put off saving for your future, no one will do it for you.
Lastly, to have a stress free holiday, you have to plan for the fun stuff, too. Christmas giving, birthdays, and vacations need to be in your yearly planning. Here’s the way that I look at this situation. Life is stressful. There is no question about that. You need to plan what you want life to be like and not just let it flow by like a river. You only pass this way once. Make a plan for what you want, or I guarantee someone will know what they want you for.
So here is my final thought about destressing the holiday. Taking the time to plan your financial life will make the rest of your life less stressful. If Christmas has snuck up on you this year, do your best. But don’t let it happen again. If you have financial problems, make a plan. Write the plan down on a calendar. It will seem more natural and controllable. Learn to control your finances so they don’t control you.
And remember, as always, my tidbits of knowledge are for educational purposes only. This is not investment, tax, or legal advice. For that, find yourself a good fiduciary financial advisor.
Have a great week,