For those of us who have been working we are all tired and glad that the year is finishing—nearly 12 months of salaries have been collected and many rands have been spent on all the necessary things that we have to pay for every month and on the little luxuries that we are sure we deserve. For some, the prospect of a 13th cheque is still coming to bring some extra relief or new opportunities for the end of 2015.
It’s NOT hard to spend money but can you feel good about it?
The psychology of spending seems to suggest that we enjoy spending money because we ‘get something’ in return; it’s fun to plan but also fun to spend without a plan or forethought of whether one even needs this thing that one is buying.
At this time of the year, lots of retail stores like to suggest that it is ‘better to give than to receive’, encouraging shoppers to buy this gift for their special loved one or buy that luxury item to make sure that your Christmas meal is the most sumptuous ever. But if you step back along the corridors of the shopping malls and take a moment to watch a few faces, it often seems that shopping for others makes people frantic, grumpy and downright unhappy! What is going on here?
Just because it is December doesn’t mean that you can take your money and use it all up on holiday plans and holiday shopping. In fact, it seems that you need to set aside some extra time to think carefully about how to spend this month’s salary to make it stretch as far as possible and to feel happy with your purchases.
Can you stick to your budget for the ‘ordinary’ things like rent or bond repayments and other monthly ‘must do’ bills to keep the roof over your head and the lights on and food on the table? Did you consider that some purchases like your monthly insurance premium shows that you are wisely managing personal risk? You can feel good about knowing that your major assets like your home and car will be safe with or without you being there. Paying out hard-earned cash for insurance certainly brings peace of mind when planning your holiday and any long road trips. These are good purchases and your planning and consistency now makes sure that you are not sad and facing major expenses later on if something goes wrong.
Close to your Heart Spending
It is fun to plan and find that perfect gift for your partner, child, friend or family. We are spoilt for choice with the wide range of retail stores to walk through or scroll through online. It seems that we really can buy the perfect gift with a little bit of treasure hunting! There is something heartwarming about imagining your child playing with the toy you are buying or thinking of that colour suiting your sister. Studies into Christmas spending have even shown that many people buy a little something for themselves by ‘self-gifting’ that special item that they have had their eye on forever! It really feels good if you have managed to save during the year or you can cash in your loyalty points to buy that well-thought out gift for someone special.
What about spending on strangers—spending that seems to be the GOLD standard of being generous and unselfish? Could you think about spending money on someone you don’t know or who can never hope to give something back to you? Can you participate in ‘generous spending’ by setting aside some of the money that you have earned to simply give away? Generosity towards someone else that we don’t even know takes giving to a whole new level and brings a new feeling of self-worth to those who can make a positive contribution to someone else’s life.
There are so many ways to be generous to strangers. You may want to bake a beautiful cake with gorgeous icing and give it away to someone who has never enjoyed something so fresh and luxurious before. Perhaps there are toothbrushes and toiletries that can impact on someone’s self-esteem and make them feel good about themselves just because you generously gave beyond your own needs and your own social circle. It may even be possible for you to make a cash donation to a person in need or a special charity who is closely connected to so many people in need. This kind of generous spending is exactly what is needed for the many Non Profit Organizations such as Kids Haven who work directly with children and families in need.
This December enjoy the season of sharing and caring but make sure that you have covered those CRITICAL bills that must be paid and consider upping the level of your generosity to donate some time, money or items (even secondhand goods) that can improve the life of someone that you don’t even know.