Everyone is tired at this time of year. We're all over work and can't wait for the holidays. But one thing is true about human nature, when we're tired we make mistakes. And there are a few financial mistakes that you will likely regret in the new year.
To avoid your bank account suffering as much as your liver this holiday, here are the top 5 most common financial blunders that people make.
1. Over spending
All the major retailers know that the holiday time is when they get their annual bonus by helping relieve you of yours! Don't fall into the trap of spending more than you can afford. The most important financial lesson is to live within your means.
What to do: make a budget. First look at how much you have in your bank account. Add to that your best guess of how much you are likely to receive in your end of year paycheck. Then make a list of all your likely holiday expenses, like travel, presents, food, alcohol etc.
Ask yourself: what are must-haves and what are nice-to-haves?
Take action: starting from the most important to the least important, determine how much of the money you have you want to spend per expense category. Make sure you don't include your credit or store cards in determining how much you can spend. Once you're done with your budget, share it with a friend or family member who will help you stick to it!
2. Not taking out the trash
Nobody really enjoys looking at bank statements, myself included. But leaving them unopened because they're scary is a mistake. Going through your bank statements every once in a while is a good way to spot old subscriptions or policies that you thought you had cancelled or no longer need that are still making off with your money every month.
What to do: print out your last three monthly bank statements and look for services, subscriptions, policies and memberships you hardly use or want to cancel.
Ask yourself: what unnecessary expenses can I cut before the end of the year?
Take action: make a checklist of what you want to cut and start cancelling. It's important to stick to the list because most companies won't want to loose your monthly payments, so they will often make the process hard. Persist. Remember it's your hard earned cash that you're giving away. If it doesn't add value to your life, cut it out.
3. Not taking advantage of your rewards
More and more companies are attracting customers by promising great rewards or incentives. However, most people don't take advantage of these benefits, either because they simply forget or because they are difficult to access. During the holiday period you're probably going to spend more than you usually do – you can save yourself a lot of money by knowing how best you can take advantage of your rewards and benefits.
What to do: open your wallet and do an audit of all your credit and loyalty cards. Make a quick list of the benefits you get from each card, so that you can familiarise yourself with what you should buy where.
Ask yourself: how much money will I save by simply buying certain things from specific shops?
Take action: make a holiday shopping list that not only identifies what you need to buy but from where you should buy it. Now you can do your holiday shopping with the comfort of knowing you're getting the best deals you can!
4. Not paying off your debt
There is no hangover quite like a debt hangover. Increasing debt over December is a common mistake. Instead digging yourself into a deeper hole, why not take stock of what you owe and carve out a chunk of your year-end bonus to pay down your worst debt obligations?
What to do: make a list of your outstanding loans, as well as all your credit and store cards with amounts owing, include the amount owed and what interest rate you are charged annually. You should also check which loans allow for accelerated payments as some do not.
Ask yourself: do you really want to start the new year with more debt than you currently have?
Take action: rank your debts from highest to lowest monthly interest payments. Carve out part of your holiday budget to pay off (or at the very least reduce) the balances owing where interest charges are high.
5. Not planning for the future
It takes time to accumulate the necessary funds for those dream holidays and big purchases. So it's wise to give yourself as much time as possible by mapping out what you want to achieve by when and start investing money towards that goal.
What to do: make a list of any big expenses you have planned in the foreseeable future. For each one, determine the projected date and the amount of money you'll need. Our goal calculator in franc.app can help you do just that.
Ask yourself: if these goals are really important to me, how much am I willing to put away each month to make them a reality?
Take action: set up an investment goal through franc.app and start investing every month towards that goal.