It’s the first day of summer and the start of the silly season here in Australia. There will be temptation everywhere. Christmas parties, family get togethers, friends’ parties… not to mention the ads ramping up about savings. But are you really saving if you buy something that you didn’t need? The answer is: NO.

So how can you enjoy the summer and the Christmas period without going broke and having your celebration period and your new year shadowed by the stresses of lack of money or even debt?

Empower yourself with these simple steps:

Plan and Budget

You would have some idea what is coming up by now, it happens every year. So to break the cycle this year, create a plan. Who is likely to have a party? Do you want to go to them? What are they doing and when? How much is it going to cost you? Can you afford it? Do you have to move something else out of the way to make it happen?

Then simply get a calendar, plot out the events and how much you can spend on it based on whether you are taking a plate of food or going out to a restaurant.

As for the Christmas gift list, take a look at whom do you need to get a present for and set a budget. If you can’t find a gift within your budget you can always opt for a gift card. I know it is not as exciting, but you will stay within your limit.

Track and Record

Now that you have your plan and budget, track your expenses. I hope you are already tracking your everyday expenses, to keep you on track and so you can create a realistic budget, so adding a few things to it in this period wouldn’t be that much more work.

When you go to the event or to purchase gifts make sure you have your list with who needs what, how much you allowed for it etc. that serves as a reminder to stay in the limit and also to track your expenses. If you have money left over after the event, put it aside. You can roll it into the next fun thing or save it for after Christmas.

Insert the GAP

There are always last minute get togethers. So when they arise weigh up your options rather than just jump straight in. Can you afford it? Do you want to do it? Can you go and not spend money? Pause to run the questions through in your head. Don’t justify yourself, be realistic. Your self-esteem and confidence will love you for staying in your guidelines you set for the season.

As for extra gifts, same rule applies… The ads make them look awesome, I know! And we want to give the best, latest and greatest, but if you already sorted that person, don’t listen to the impulse. It may just get you in trouble!

We want to slow the impulses down, so take a moment and consider whether you can really afford the added expense? Whether you really need to do it right now? Or are you just acting on impulse?

Following the above steps in this festive season will mean that you can stay true to you and your needs right now. Managing your expenses is not a drag! It means you are there for you! Stick to it and your confidence will rise exponentially, and you can still have a good time. So celebrate on your terms this Christmas.