For many people, along with holiday cheer and excitement, comes the added stress on their time and finances, in addition to the burden of debt. The holidays bring a dizzing array of demands – everything from shopping to parties, baking, cleaning and entertaining, just to name a few. But it does not have to be that way! You do not have to give in to the stress, anxiety and pressure of the season.
There are the inevitable holiday pitfalls, but you are going to learn how to not only avoid those pitfalls, but actually make money, pay off debt, lose weight and accomplish your goals, during a time when everyone else is doing the exact opposite.
People can be divided into two categories, as we enter this holiday season: Those who will get bought up in all of the shopping, cooking, entertaining, traveling and stress of the season. These same folks will go further into debt, spend more money, and simply ride the wave right into the end of the year. And then there are those who will strategically position themselves to fatten their wallets, decrease their debt, achieve their personal and business goals and help others do the same.
Those are the same two population groups we find everywhere else. Statistically, 98% of the population will be dead or dead broken by the age of 65, dependent upon their family, friends or the federal government as their main source of income. Only 2% of the population will be doing well financially.
The best way to become part of the 2% – the ones who head into this holiday season, focused on making more money, paying off their debt and reaching their goals – is to find out what everyone else is doing, and then do the exact opposite.
So let's look at what 98% of the population is doing, and see what we can do differently:
DO NOT fall into the trap of so-called “good deals!”
Without fail, 98% -ers will be swarming in the halls and department stores for the next month, running from one sale to the next, spending money they do not have, to buy stuff they do not need. In fact, the National Retail Federation reported 61% of consumers say they will shop over Thanksgiving weekend, which equates to over 140 million unique shoppers … and that's just the beginning of the holiday shopping season. But what they do not realize is that many of these sales are nothing but a scam – a setup – to get consumers to spend more money!
Think about it: You're spending more money and going even further into debt, buying things for other people (and for yourself), not because you need those things, and not even because you need those things, but because it's on sale . And who taught you to shop at sales, anyway? The media, marketers, grocery stores, department stores – the ones taking your money! Sales make you feel like you're saving money, but the bottom line is this: You can not save money by spending it. You save money by NOT spending it! But if you do decide to go shopping on “Black Friday,” I hope you hear me in your head, screaming “STEP AWAY FROM THE SALES!”
DO save money and pay off debt!
You can save money by not spending it at all the big holiday “sales.” When you do not spend all your money at the sales, you're going to find a lot of cash lying around you did not even know you had! The reality is, it's not just about holiday shopping. It's about habits. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you're going to get the same results. Instead, take that extra cash and put it toward your debt. Put it toward something that will actually help you reach your financial goals, your business goals, your career goals, your family goals. I know what you're thinking … 'Oh come on, that's no fun!' Seriously ?! Uh, hello! Do you know how much fun it's going to be when you can finally start knocking out your debt? It's a total rush! Imagine the feeling of total freedom … there's nothing like it!
DO NOT buy out of obligation!
As expected, those 98% -ers will buy gifts for their family and friends, just because that's what is expected this time of year. But please tell me, why is it necessary to buy gifts for people who do not need anything, anyway? What good is another gift that will just go on a shelf, in a box in the garage, in next year's garage sale or even be “re -ifted”? But 98% -ers are afraid of what people will think if they do not buy a gift. Or they're buying gifts for people just because they know the other person will buy them something. Honestly, gifts bought out of obligation are not a good use of your money!
DO put purpose to money!
Choose to do something meaningful during this holiday season. For example, take the money you would have spent on Christmas gifts for those who really do not need anything, and bless a family who is really in need. There are plenty of people in your community, school, workplace or neighborhood who are in some kind of need. Bless them with food and clothes. Pay their electric bill. Just show up unannounced and bless someone who is really in need. This will not only bless the recipient of the gifts, but it will bless you and your family more than you ever thought possible!
DO NOT just coast through the rest of the year!
The 98% -ers will be the ones so caught up in the holiday craziness, they will quit focusing on their goals. They will just go with the flow and let time slip away. And they will find themselves on January 1st in the same place they were in last year. “I fell off the wagon halfway through the year, so I'm gonna wait until January.” Do not let time slip away from you again this year … you still have over a month left!
DO reevaluate the goals you set last January!
I'm sure you made a list of goals back in January. There was something you wanted to accomplish in 2014. Where are you on that list? Have you made progress? Have you reached some of your goals? Are you on track to accomplish those goals before the end of the year? It's not too late to get back on track! You still have time – the year is not over yet! Instead of just coasting through the rest of the year, find two short-term goals on that list and focus on accomplishing them. You will feel better about yourself, and you will finish the year strong with a positive mental outlook for 2015.
DO NOT let the stress of the season make you forget what it's all about!
This time of year can generally be very fast and furious. Between the shopping, parties, financial issues, family issues and the general busy feeling of the season, there is a lot of stress. Do not give into it like the 98% -ers who will allow themselves to get caught up in the stress and forget what the season is really supposed to be about.
DO slow down and take time to remember what this time is about!
Take time to reflect on the year. Celebrate your accomplishes. Make a point of being thankful for the people and the opportunities you have in your life. Use this time to teach your kids to be grateful. Show them how to use what they have to bless others who are really in need. Sit down with your family and take stock of the past year. Discuss where you want to go and what you want to accomplish in the next year.
So which group will you be a part of this holiday season? Will you be part of the 98%, who will finish out the year broke, stressed out and in the same place (or worse) than when they started this year? Or will you be part of the 2%, who will be focused on making more money, paying off debt, achieving their goals and helping others to do the same?