It’s almost the time of year when people get themselves into financial trouble because their hearts are bigger than their wallets. As we come to the end of November, monthly paid people are about to experience that once-a-year phenomenon where, within the space of a couple weeks, their bank account looks like they just win a big Play Whe mark. Yup, I’m talking about getting paid early in December which allows you to spend out your salary in record time and eat ice cubes in butter bread until the end of January. None of the information in this post is earth shattering but it would be remiss of me, as your self-appointed, personal finance life coach, not to provide an unsolicited reminder to help you survive the 6 weeks of January.
There is no magic or obeah I know to make you suddenly have more money in December than you did all year (legally that is). The key to making it to the end of January without selling an organ or offering foot massages outside Pricesmart is your mindset. You need to decide if you want to be fiscally responsible and make it through the 9 months of January with ease or do you prefer to scrape through to payday by the grace of God and skin of your teeth. Some people like the excitement of ducking lenders calls or showering in the fountain in West Mall.
The first mindset shift you need to make is to understand that the extra money in your account in the middle of December is not a bonus or gifts money to make you the neighborhood fat man in a red suit. That money is your regular, carbon battery, December salary come early. That money have the same obligations as March, July or September money. December bills don’t take the holidays off. They show up the same time like clockwork and your money better be there to handle the scene or is problems. Your money can’t hide like a sou-sou admin.
Right, so once you have your mind right the next step is your budget. Everyone knows this but I’ll say it again, budgeting is the single most important activity you can do to manage your finances like a real adult. Your budget needs to be specific, it needs to extend multiple months (preferably the entire year) and it needs to be documented somewhere. You can use a chalkboard, copybook page, bristol board, yuh Trapper Keeper, budgeting software or my personal favorite, Microsoft Excel. I posted a full video on budgeting on my YouTube channel sometime ago to help allyuh.
Anyway, make sure you prepay or put aside money for the December bills that need paying including rent, mortgage, insurance, utilities etc. before you look to be best gift giver. The one place you may be able to cut back to have a little more sorrel and puncheon money is maybe….maybe…whatever you planned to save each month (which you should be doing). Also, don’t forget to budget to eat in January eh, unless you plan to eat only ham and clove for 2 months.
Finally, do not fall into the trap of taking holiday loans or abusing your credit card. Yes credit cards are useful and can help bridge the short-term mismatch between income and expenses during the holiday season but it can get you into trouble faster than that one friend who calls you at 11pm and asks “wuz d scene, what yuh for?” Hire purchase is also another trap to look out for. Every store will want to offer you a stainless steel fridge and stove, front-load washer and dryer, hutch (press), manual ice cream bucket to churn yuh rum and raison and a 95 inch QLED TV all for the low price of 75,892 payments of $100. Then when a bailiff show up in February you hiding behind curtain or worse yet you actually make the payments.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t enjoy your holiday season or indulge in whatever benevolent gift giving activities you usually do. What I’m saying is don’t let it cause you undue hardship or derail your long-term financial plans because guess what, that paisley tie and high cut jockeys you gave your boss is either getting re-gifted or going straight in the garbage next to Bruce Willis’s most recent movies (lord fadda he acting in filth these days.)
Anyway, that’s my 2 cents. It would have been 10 cents but I’m saving 8 cents for January.