Winter is a hard time for everything; plants that gave food in the spring and summer die off or go away, and many of the song birds fly south for the winter. It doesn’t hurt to spend less than five dollars on a bag of seed to feed the winter birds, and they do appreciate your efforts. Winter is tough on people as well. The cost of living is going up but not as much as my paycheck does. And the holidays, as wonderful and festive as they are, seem to get more expensive from year to year. If one plans a strategy just right, there are a few sneaky ways to make the holidays more affordable for next year.
All it takes for an affordable holiday season is some extra planning and a very early start. Here’s what I almost did: (I say almost because I started on this plan, and then I became a returning student to my community college so that’s where all of my extra money went to. But I believe my system worked.) the plan is to look over your bills from the past year and find the bill that was the most expensive. Then take the amount of that bill and tack on an extra 10%. An envelope/cash system works great for this but it can still be done with a checking account and a ledger if you don’t want to go the cash route. This plan does require sticking to a budget, and not going on a shopping spree when you find that there’s still a $50.00 balance in the account after the bills are paid.
If school tuition had not interrupted my plan, this is how the year would have worked for my energy bill. My monthly energy bill does fluctuate and over the course of the year it had the highest amount of $109.00 and the lowest amount was $48.50. So for the month of January of last year, I would put in $110.00 in my bill paying ledger (graph paper works great) which is roughly 10%. By always putting away $110.00 into the energy account, and providing it didn’t go over the projected $109.00, then I always had enough to pay it off and still have some left over. If I saved $10 a month for the year, I would have had $120.00 in the energy bill account and that alone would have paid for itself in December, and still have a little left over for the coming January.
Not only does this plan work for the energy bill but it can work for all bills. 10% doesn’t seem like much, and in the beginning my initial thought was “why bother?” but 10% multiplied by 12 months did become quite a bit and it does make a difference. Knowing that there’s enough money in the bank to pay off the holiday bills does feel like a pretty good present to me.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas everyone.