Are you financially ready for the holidays? The festive season can be less festive if you don't have enough savings to spend. You can easily find yourself making avoidable mistakes with so much going on.
Benson is a 33-year-old businessman. The last holiday caught him off guard. His business struggled due to cash flow issues, and he expected few sales during the holidays. He was behind on his holiday savings, and much of his money was stuck in his business and other illiquid assets.
In order to finance his holiday, Benson decided to take a personal loan using his car as collateral. He took his family on vacation in Diani and bought his friends flashy gifts. But after the holidays, he spent the better half of 2022 regretting his decision.
His business didn't boom as expected, and he struggled to repay his loan. He missed a couple of installments, and he was fined heavily. By the time Benson had finished repaying the loan, he had paid back 2x what he had borrowed.
Are you broke and wondering how you can survive the holidays and avoid the kind of mistake Benson made? Here are ten tips to help you through the holidays if you have no money.
In addition to your regular monthly spending, the holidays come with a long list of new expenses you need to budget for. Some of these new expenses that need your attention include buying gifts for loved ones, travelling to family get-togethers, and entertaining yourself and your kids if you are a parent.
The first step to take to survive the holidays when you are broke is to create a budget. A budget will help you make the best of what you have, prioritise what's important, and prevent you from going into debt or using your savings. You can also avoid temptations and impulsive holiday spending when you plan and track your expenses.
To create a holiday budget, you need to have a goal, decide how much you can afford to spend, list needs and wants and find clever workarounds to make it all happen. Lastly, remember a budget is only helpful if you follow it. Therefore, commit to sticking to your budget and follow through.
Read Also: 6 Simple Steps to Create a Working Budget
Shopping and the holidays can't be separated. With retailers all around giving huge discounts, it's the best time to upgrade appliances and purchase everything you've been planning for the whole year. It's also time to gift loved ones, and if you're travelling to family functions, you can't go empty-handed. If you are on a tight budget, you reduce the stress and anxiety of holiday shopping by adopting some smart strategies.
First, consider shopping early. Don't wait until the last minute to buy gifts or make purchases. Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the last week of November to stock up and buy everything at a discount.
If you plan to travel, you should buy your tickets early before the price hikes happen.
Second, consider buying all your supplies in bulk. When stocking up for your monthly supply, use that time also to buy all your holiday supplies. You should also compare prices when deciding where to buy. For instance, buying from wholesalers can be cheaper than buying from supermarkets or your estate's shop.
Thirdly, don't freestyle when shopping. This often leads to overspending and buying items you don't need. Before heading to the market, have a list. Write down everything that you need and buy only those. A list can help you control your spending and keep you within your budget.
Exchanging gifts during festive seasons is a major holiday tradition and one of the most costly ones. Your family, friends, and colleagues will all be expecting gifts from you. But meeting their expectations can be hard when you don't have enough money. You will have to think outside the box.
First, you need to start by managing expectations. Let everyone around you know if you plan to skip gift-giving this year or the kind of gift they will receive. Second, you need to learn that it's the thought that counts. You don't have to break the bank to give gifts. For example, you can buy friends and colleagues 2023 notepads, write personalized season greetings on each, and gift them.
Finally, you need to trim your list. While this might be hard to do, you will need to remove some people from your list. You will have to decide your gifting budget and start distributing gifts using a priority list. The first on the list could be kids expecting gifts from you, your siblings, and your parents, followed by close friends, etc. You will then stop at where the money ends.
Part of what makes the holiday season special are the traditions everyone loves. The travelling, the parties, the family reunions, and the charities we support. These events create meaningful experiences that you will likely cherish forever. But these traditions are often expensive, and you might have to make some compromises when you are cash-strapped.
Review all your holiday traditions and look at what you can afford to finance this year and what you can't. If, for example, you can't host a family get-together or an end-of-the-year party for friends like you always do, you can pass the torch to someone else or cancel this year's event. If you usually take your vacation in December, postpone it to February and use the holidays to do other things.
You can also start other budget traditions like going to the movies, taking the family to a picnic, or attending free concerts organised by religious communities. After all, you can resume your customary traditions next year.
How much do you socialise or entertain yourself during the holiday? You will probably be getting invites to numerous parties over the holiday, and you might also have some you wish to attend. But these outings can be expensive, and if you don't have a plan, it can blow up your budget. This holiday, participate in only events you can afford and respectfully turn down invites that might affect your finances.
Luckily, you don't have to be outside to have fun. You can bring the party indoors and significantly save on ticket and transport costs. If you have a roommate or family, you can buy cardboard games, stream a movie, or host picnics in your backyard. You can have fun and bond with your loved ones without leaving your house.
Read Also: Money & Me: An Unforgettable Budget Holiday
The holidays signify the end of the year, making it the perfect time to reward yourself for surviving what has been a tough year. But if you want to stay on budget and avoid overspending, you should limit self-gifting.
This doesn't mean you should go hard on yourself, but rather do it in moderation. Buy only the necessary things and postpone other purchases until you are financially stable.
You should also consider giving yourself valuable gifts that have long-term returns. For instance, instead of buying a gaming console, you can use the money to learn a new skill or take a short course to sharpen your existing ones. This can help you command a higher salary next year or help you develop a new source of income.
The holidays are a spending season, and you'll look forward to shopping. Temptations will be high, and if you are not careful or strong enough to resist them, you will spend more than you have. You do that when you find yourself financing purchases using debts from credit cards, digital money lending apps, or borrowing from friends.
Supermarkets and online retailers will also try to entice you with buy now, pay later deals. This concept involves buying a product by paying a fraction of its price as a deposit and paying the rest in monthly installments.
Taking consumer loans during the holidays can help you get whatever you need, but it will be costly in the long term. Retailers will likely charge you extra fees when you are not paying in cash, and taking loans comes with many charges, including interest. This means you'll be paying more for a product. Ranking up debts will also increase your debt-to-income ratio, putting more pressure on your finances.
Read Also: How to Avoid the Trap of Consumer Debt
The pressure to spend during the holiday is immeasurable. One of the biggest things you will have to deal with is the fear of missing out (FOMO). Everyone around you will undoubtedly seem to be doing something worthwhile with their holidays, whether going on vacation or attending every concert. You might feel left out. And in response, you might end up taking debt, liquidating assets, or taking other financial steps you might regret later.
The number one thing you master if you want to go through the holidays with no money is to live within your means. This involves doing things you are financially capable of, not pleasing people, and knowing your financial limits. This will ensure you stay within your budget, save money, and protect your future.
To live within your means during the holidays, try to avoid triggers. Spend less time on social media, where everyone seems to be living their best lives, and you are bombarded with ads. You should also avoid trips to the supermarket or malls as you will likely make impulsive purchases. You can use the holidays to calm your mind, take nature walks or stay at home reading a book and working on your new year's resolutions.
Last holiday, Mary, a single mother of three kids, was dead broke. She could only afford her regular expenses, but her children were looking up to her to give them a memorable experience. Mary tried everything, even to get a new job, but she couldn't. As she was about to give up and take a personal loan, festive miracles came knocking.
Her family and friends had taken note of her situation and decided to come to her aid. They did holiday shopping for her, brought her children gifts, and even took them on a one-day outing to Nairobi National park. Mary felt relieved.
While your situation might not turn out to be like Mary's, don't be afraid to ask and accept help from your loved ones. People are more likely to be generous during the holidays and come to their rescue. And the help doesn't have to be monetary. An invitation to a dinner or party can go a long way.
Additionally, they can provide moral and emotional support when you are experiencing financial instability. They can also use their connections to find better-paying jobs or help you get your finances in order.
Struggling to make ends meet during the holiday can lead to financial stress. It can be harder on you if you have family and can't provide for them. But if you are not careful and choose to wallow in grief, it can significantly take a toll on you. The stress can turn to depression, affect your relationships and even lead to physical ailments.
You will have to move past the denial stage and accept your situation to avoid all this. Only then will you be able to think clearly and create a plan to guarantee the next holiday finds you in better financial shape.
Once you've accepted your situation, to move forward, you will need to:
As you look for ways to cut expenses and live within your budget during the holidays, consider using the time to review your finances. Identify your spending habits, find ways to boost your income, develop a strategy for getting out of debt, and create a financial plan. Reviewing your finances at the end of the year can help you figure out what you did wrong and what you can do better to ensure you end the coming year on a high note.