How is your progress on saving an emergency fund? Your assignment is to have $1000 saved at the end of the year, and let me make this clear… Black Friday is not an emergency!
As the holidays approach, retailers are doing their best to whip us all into a shopping frenzy. Never-before-seen savings on certain items make us feel like we HAVE TO buy them right now. We head into a store with one or two specific targets in mind, but then walk out with 7 or 8 items because, “hey, I’m already here and it’s on sale…” But keep in mind that some things really are on sale, while others only look like they’re on sale. Don’t get caught up in the hype!
What if you can take a step back and evaluate what you REALLY DO NEED? If you can’t resist diving into the fray of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all of the other deal-o-ramas, you should first make lists, set a budget and then find a way to keep yourself disciplined. Who are the specific people you’re shopping for? Are there meaningful gift options that don’t cost much? Are there items where you can find off-brand versions or last-year’s model that are still good, but less expensive? How much can you actually afford to spend (not charging everything on a credit card and paying it off for a year)? What if you left your cards at home and only brought the amount of cash you budgeted? Or maybe use a debit card, but first make sure there’s only the amount you want to spend in the account at the time of the shopping trip (by transferring the rest to savings before and then back after)?
And for children… kids don’t need much to play – they’ll invent fun out of whatever is laying around, so expensive gifts probably aren’t necessary. Kids spend too much time stationary and experiences can create memories that last a lifetime, so instead of game systems and other electronics maybe consider a camp, trip, art activity classes, membership to an activity group or sports team, etc. If it’s a significant cost, pool a group of family or friends together to make it happen.
We’re heading into a wonderful time of the year and it’s good to be generous. But please keep the bigger picture in mind. Make sure that along the way you’re still building your future, and the start is your $1000 emergency fund.