Have a Joyful Holiday Season Without Breaking the Bank
The holiday spending season is already in full swing. With all of the dazzling advertisements that will surely be shoved in our faces over the next two months, it could be really easy to buy all the hype and fall headfirst into the spending trap. After all, that fuzzy feeling of watching our loved ones smile as they open our gifts can be quite addicting. Still, the holidays are a lot more joyful if we’re not weighed down with financial worries after the fact.
Following these tips will help make your holidays festive without being a financial mess:
Plan ahead. Hopefully, you’ve had an idea of what you want to buy for a while now and you’ve been putting savings aside for several months. If you haven’t, start right now by determining your budget, then stick to it. Create a list of wants and needs. If there’s something you want that will make you go over budget, don’t buy it.
Santa makes a list…you should too. Shopping for sales can be a great way to save money. However, they can also lure you into impulse buying. So start the season out by making a list of family members, friends, and neighbors you’d like to give gifts to and gift ideas for each of them, then search the sales based on that list. If an item for sale isn’t on your list, don’t buy it. Another great way to avoid impulse buying is to do as much of your shopping online as you can. That way, you can easily compare prices from site to site and find the best deals without battling holiday shopping crowds, weather or traffic. For even more savings, shop with Melaleuca’s online retail partners. See page 36 for details.
Go and do. You don’t have to spend money to make this time of year special. Look back on your favorite holidays past, and what do you remember? It won’t be the new purse or necklace you got. It will be the time you spent with those you love. Try sledding, building snowmen, and making paper snowflakes with the kids. Attend free community concerts, tree-lighting ceremonies, extended family game nights and neighborhood parties. These are all great ways to make lasting holiday memories without spending a ton of money.
Avoid debt. Nothing wipes away those joyful holiday memories quicker than seeing a credit card bill in January. Studies have shown that when shopping with plastic, consumers spend up to 50% more on impulse purchases. And steer clear of those sneaky layaway plans retailers use to entice shoppers. They may be interest-free to start (miss a payment and you’ll be dinged with penalties), but they’re just another form of incurring debt. Whatever you purchase this holiday season, purchase it with the cash you know you have today, not the money you think you’ll have tomorrow.
Increase your income. If you’re willing to work for it, there are all sorts of opportunities to bring in some extra cash during the holidays allowing for more holiday spending. A lot of businesses need and advertise for seasonal help. However, as a Melaleuca Marketing Executive, you already have the perfect way to earn as much extra income as you’d like and loosen a tight budget.
Have you ever daydreamed about having more money than you knew what to do with? Imagine wanting something—stylish new shoes, a sports car, a sprawling mansion, an island, anything—and buying it without pause thanks to your bottomless, overflowing coffers. How wonderful would that be?
Unfortunately, none of us has an inexhaustible supply of money. Income is finite in the real world, which makes budgeting an imperative element of household finance.
A budget, simply put, is an estimate of income and expenses for a set period of time. If you’re like most people who get paid once or twice a month and pay their bills on a monthly basis, you should be budgeting your household finances each month.
The problem is that many people see budgeting as a nuisance, if not a nightmare. In fact, a recent poll shows that just 32 percent of Americans put together a monthly household budget. The flip side of that statistic: More than two thirds of adults in the U.S. aren’t keeping detailed track of how, where or when they’re spending their money.
However, budgeting doesn’t need to be a necessary evil, nor should it be. It’s a fantastic tool for controlling what you spend, developing discipline and avoiding unnecessary stress. It can help you eliminate debt, reduce impulse buying, save money and plan for the future.
The following are a few tips on making—and sticking to—a budget:
Achieve balance, shoot for surplus
In a balanced budget, revenue and expenses are equal—in other words, you spend what you earn. If you spend more than you make, you have a deficit budget; if you spend less than you earn, you have a surplus budget.
If your monthly budgeting reveals a deficit, make balancing your budget your first goal: Cut up credit cards, use cash, pay off debts, and cut wasteful spending anywhere you can. When you’ve balanced your budget, take time to celebrate the win. After all, you’ve just accomplished something that many individuals, businesses and even governments have yet to do.
If your current budget is balanced, make surplus your goal. Look for additional ways to cut expenses and increase your income so you can start saving money.
Do you already have a surplus budget? Good for you. Your goal should be to tip the scales even further in your favor. The more you save, the healthier your budget is and the more secure your future will be.
When you’ve balanced your budget, take time to celebrate the win. After all, you’ve just accomplished something that many individuals, businesses and even governments have yet to do.
Begin by simply making a list of monthly expenses—both essentials and extras—and a separate list of your income-generating activities—full-time job or residual Melaleuca income. This will give you a picture of where your money is coming from and where it’s going every month.
Also, save your receipts and balance your checkbook regularly. Set aside time at least once a week to update your ledger. Most people who are caught off guard by overdraft fees fail to record their debits and credits in a timely manner. If you’re not a paper-and-pen person, try using personal finance software. A lot of programs can be accessed on the go via your phone and include built-in budgeting tools to help you analyze your spending.
Lighten your load and be accountable for your budget by sharing it with others. Couples who keep finances secret from each other not only run the risk of a relationship of mistrust, they also miss out on the benefits of teamwork. When both of you are on the same page, you can set goals and celebrate wins together, offer each other advice and encouragement, and keep an eye out for potential spending traps.
If you’re single, turn to others in your household and keep them apprised of your budget. While they may not be accountants, your parents, siblings and even children can serve as familial financial consultants because they care about you and likely share your financial goals.
Cut bad habits
If there’s a deficit in your budget, you have two options for achieving balance or surplus: increase your income or reduce expenses.
Thankfully, building a Melaleuca business is within your direct control, and it’s the best way to increase your residual income.
Cost cutting is also within your immediate power, and quitting a bad habit or two is an excellent way to quickly free up cash. Are you watching too much TV? Cancel your cable or satellite service. Are you eating out too much? Commit to making all your meals at home.
Alcohol and tobacco are not only bad for your body, they’re murder on your wallet. If you quit smoking and drinking, your physical health won’t be the only beneficiary. You’ll have more money for other expenses, you’ll probably qualify for lower insurance premiums and you’ll likely avoid health care expenses down the road.
One way to help you stay on budget is to use cash for the entire month. After you’ve paid your fixed expenses and other bills, take the remaining cash and divide it into as many categories as you need for the month—$200 for groceries, $150 for gas, $75 for restaurants, for example. Once the cash is gone, it’s gone. You’ll find it’s a lot easier to say “no” to a $100 blouse when it will drain the rest of your month’s cash than it is when you can just swipe a card for it.
A significant contributor to overspending is the card—both credit and debit. In fact, when shopping with plastic, consumers routinely spend up to 50 percent more on impulse purchases.
Revisit and revise
Just because a budget is set for one month doesn’t mean that things won’t change. A lost job, a new job, new insurance premiums or the arrival of a child all require adjustments to your finances.
Be flexible as you update your budget regularly. If you go over budget one month, don’t beat yourself up. Take time to reevaluate your plan and get familiar with the system. Budgeting can be a challenge, but the longer you stick with it, the easier it will become.
Whether you make $30,000 or $300,000 a year, knowing your financial numbers can save you a lot of heartache. The news is replete with stories of celebrities who earned tens of millions only to end up bankrupt due to their lack of financial discipline. The lesson is simple: Life is better on a budget, regardless of your income.
It’s January, and all that holiday cheer is catching up with your bank account. Sure you got some amazing deals—25, 50, 75 percent off everything your family ever wanted!—but the magic of Christmas morning is now overshadowed by hefty credit card bills. If only you’d taken a cue from the Grinch and remembered that Christmas doesn’t come from a store. So what now? Where do you go after the wrapping paper and twinkling lights are stored for the season but you’ve got bills you’ll be paying the whole year through? Here are six easy tips you can use for holiday debt recovery, taken from Melaleuca’s Simple Steps to Your Financial Freedom guide.
Add Up Your Debt
You spent too much—you know that—but how much exactly did you spend? It’s important to know exactly how much you owe and to whom before you can make a plan to get out of debt. You’re not going to beat yourself over the head with your bad decisions; you’re just going to take an honest accounting of how much you owe and admit that you need to make getting out of debt a priority.
All those amazing New Year’s sales? You’re going to skip them, even if they have amazing deals. After all, didn’t everyone just get a boatload of Christmas presents? You’ve fulfilled plenty of your family’s wants, so what you need is to stop spending and halt the upward climb of your credit card balance.
Look at all your incidental expenses, like how often you eat out, go to the movies, and do other fun but not really necessary things. No, you don’t have to live like a hermit and spend the rest of the year bored at home. But what about setting some limits—like only one or two outings a week?
Because it’s winter, you’ll also want to take a look at your heating bill. Keeping warm can be an expensive endeavor, but the simple tips below can help lower your spending without freezing the family.
- Invest in window and door treatments that cut down on heat loss. A drafty window or door is leaking more than just cold air—it’s leaking money. Caulk, weatherstrips and other insulation will pay off on your heating bill.
- Did you know that hot water consumes 14 to 25 percent of your heating bill? Lower your bill by making sure you wash your laundry in cold water. All EcoSense® laundry products are designed to be effective in cold water, so you’ll get great results while saving a few bucks.
- Add an extra blanket and lower the nightly temperature. Turning your thermostat down at night (or when you’re out of the house) can result in significant savings. Many thermostats are now programmable, so you can set it and forget it.
- Let the sun lend a hand by opening the curtains on south-facing windows. You’ll get some good old-fashioned solar power during the day, and you can close the curtains at night to keep out the chill.
Increase Your Income
This is where a Melaleuca business comes in handy. Building a Melaleuca business doesn’t require that you quit your day job, invest a large sum of money or go further into debt. A Melaleuca business is a simple, easy, low-cost way to add to your monthly income and loosen a tight budget.
The average monthly income for a Director/Director II is $179. To reach Director II, all you need to do is help 10 friends discover Melaleuca. If you’re looking for a little more income, make a goal to reach Director III, which makes an average of $639 a month. To reach Director III you enroll 11 friends and then help one of those friends enroll eight of their friends. That’s a significant income just for telling a few people about quality products that can truly benefit their lives.
For those who are already Director III or above, make a goal to develop at least one Director each month. Use the monthly promotions to maximize your business growth and motivate your team. You can also set a goal to advance your status by a specific date.
Power Roll Your Debt
Traditional wisdom says to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, but power rolling takes a different approach. Instead, you find the smallest debt you have and focus on paying that off first.
Here’s how it works:
Using the list you made in Step One, put your debts in order from largest to smallest.
Whichever debt on your list is smallest, target that one first. On every other balance, make the minimum payment, but on your smallest debt, devote every spare cent you can find. Conquering that first small debt will give you a quick win and a taste of the freedom that comes when you conquer your debts.
With your smallest debt out of the way take the money you were paying on that debt and put it toward the next debt. It could be a credit card or a store loan. With each debt you pay off, the amount you have available to pay toward the next debt will grow larger.
This is the hard part. Although you didn’t accumulate all that debt overnight, the sad reality is it’s a lot easier to charge a credit card than to pay it off. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see amazing results in one or two months (or even six, depending on the size of your debt). Think like the tortoise and keep slowly moving forward—you’ll eventually win the race!