By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
We’re in the middle of the Christmas season, which means that many people will be busting their budgets buying gifts for family members and friends.
And while the spirit of giving is definitely something to embrace, Bahamian certified financial planner Ava Nicole Smith – also known as the ‘242 Financialista’ – is advising women especially to err on the side of caution and not overspend this holiday season.
“We women tend to have a nurturing nature and try to make it the perfect for holiday season each and every time. We think, ‘Oh, just one more little gift here’ or ‘Let me add a little touch here’,” she told Tribune Woman.
“Some of us stress ourselves out just for that smile on our kids’ face or wanting to please our partners, family and everyone else in between.”
But what she suggests women to do instead, is to nurture their money and pay close attention to how they are spending it.
And one of the ways women can do this is by making arrangements and planning in advance. Purchasing items on a whim without planning can often lead to people digging a hole for themselves.
“There are tons of reasons why people overspend during the holiday season. The primary reason is due to lack of planning and following a budget for the holidays. Media and advertisement doesn’t make it easier either, with all the flashy sales compelling you to buy, buy, buy, only to leave you with lighter pockets,” said Ava.
“You also have some people who believe they must buy a gift for everyone in and around their life, simply to please them. But all of this can be avoided if you remember the real purpose of your money, and that is to achieve goals and pave the way for a bright financial future.”
When it comes to Christmas, spending lists and budgets can go long way, she noted, as they gives people a plan and reduce incidents of emotional spending.
“During this time of year it’s so easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit and forget our about financial goals. Yet we all have to remember that Christmas is only one day, and after that life goes on. So it’s never financially wise to derail your finances just for one day. Lists and budgets are only good to you if you are committed to following it; and it has to be as comprehensive as possible. Some areas to consider when creating a holiday budget are gifts, decorations, food and beverages, charity giving, gatherings, travel and tips for services that may occur along the way. A great way to assist with sticking to your budget is by using the cash envelope system,” she said.
This method, Ava explained, forces people to set aside cash for different purposes and subsequently use cash to pay for everything. It also helps with tracking your spending along the way to ensure you don’t go over budget.
“Make sure maintain financial fitness and peace of mind for the new year by avoiding loads of credit card debt during this season. Also, ignore local banks with their fancy advertisements encouraging you to take out a loan for Christmas. Remember that after Christmas is gone you will still be making that loan payment, probably well after Christmas 2019. For persons who tend to get paid early in December (but very late in January) such as government workers, I strongly admonish you to set aside some float money for January, whether or not you have a budget. Everyone knows that January feels like the longest month in any year, but it doesn’t have to cause anxiety if you set aside the money before spending it during the holidays,” she said.
But more importantly, Ava encourages people to not invest too much in material items, but rather in the moments that money can’t buy.
“Remember the spirit behind the season and focus on creating real, invaluable memories with your family. You don’t have to buy a gift for every single person in your family just to add to their happiness. And when you do decide to buy gift for some family members, remember that it’s more about quality and thoughtfulness rather than quantity or the tag amount. Not just because a gift costs $500 means it will be more special than a $50 gift. Also, an opportunity can be created to start new family traditions that last a lifetime,” she said.
• Ava Nicole Smith has been in the financial services industry for over 10 years and holds a degree in finance along with the certified financial planner designation. Her longtime passion is teaching kids about money management to increase financial literacy education among our youth. She recently launched the ‘242 Financialista’ blog that gives readers advice on how to manage their money.