Is it possible to get through the holiday season debt free? I’m wondering that as I project the expenses of hosting a new year’s day open house, travel to Vancouver Island, bringing hostess gifts to the friends who we visit, and paying for at least one holiday outing for the family (appropriately, a community theatrical reading of Scrooge)…… It adds up incrementally, even when you factor gifts out of the equation entirely (this is our second gift-free year).
Ever since I paid off my credit card and started tracking my expenses over on mint.com in August, I have discovered a whole new level of financial control. In the fall I worried I wouldn’t be able to afford decreasing my work week to four days, but instead the last several months has shown that it is not only possible, but the smaller paycheques haven’t caused much worry at all. I just have to think through my purchases more and live with the consequences when I don’t. Being on a primarily cash-only system – when the wallet is empty, it’s empty – and that means no more spending until payday (just like when I was young and made minimum wage!)
My mint.com numbers have been looking good, with overall debt and spending going down over the past four months, and I have finally phased out my expensive chequing account – not to mention a savings account that things would occasionally get charged to (paypal problems dammit) ending up in NSF fees. I have one last line of credit to pay off ($1600) which I will have the bulk of done by the end of this calendar year.
Given all that – I am determined not to let the credit card balloon over the next month, even if it means dipping into my meager savings account in order to pay cash for the things we want to do. I have also focused on making or bartering for the gifts I am giving my step-daughter, and we canned extra in the summer to give away over the holidays. Oh – and there’s the canned mincemeat and fruit cake which Brian has been working on – not to mention the potholders and fabric boxes I am making out of scraps that I want to use up!
In short, we are attempting to keep the costs as low as possible this year so that we can continue to work towards our financial goals – but I don’t believe that means we can’t enjoy ourselves. Indeed! I find it much more enjoyable to participate in the season if I’m not simultaneously worrying about the amount of debt being added to my credit card.
It’s obscene isn’t it? The spend, spend, spend during a season supposedly dedicated to charity and companionship. Fortunately it’s possible to turn around and it’s such a relief when we do!