How to Avoid Christmas Debt

Christmas is a time of giving, but it doesn’t also need to be a time of crippling debt. Many people commonly spend more than they have around this time of year. It may be out of generosity, or it may be a lack of impulse control, but the result is the same: they start a new year with debt that can take months to clear.

Do you tend to fall into this seasonal trap? Here are some ideas that can help make this year a different story:

Start Saving Early

If you know there are a number of people you want to buy for, start putting some money aside each month early in the year.

Plan Carefully

Draw up a list of everyone you plan to buy for, plus how much you would like to spend on each person. Do you have enough money to cover that total? If not, go through it again.

Use Cash

Credit cards can be incredibly handy, but they also allow us to easily spend well beyond our means. Paying for things in cash helps to put a limit to that. If you must use a credit card, choose the one with the lowest monthly interest rate.

Watch Out for Sales

There are many great bargains out there this time of year, but make sure you allow yourself enough time to seek them out. Leaving Christmas gift hunting until the last-minute means taking what you can get, and that is rarely a good deal.

Avoid Self-Gifting

It can be extremely tempting to buy things for yourself at the same time, but don’t do it. ‘Tis the season to give, not receive.

Use Those Reward Points

Many stores and credit card companies now offer reward points as an incentive. If you have some, use them to get price reductions or free things you can use as gifts.


Finding Another Job While You are Still Working

Are you unhappy with your current job? Thinking of quitting? Hold off on that. While it may seem odd, the best time to find another job is when you are still in the workforce. This is because it demonstrates to potential employers that you have skills and they are valued enough that someone else is making use of them. It also gives you an advantage: since you already have a job, you don’t necessarily have to sign on for a lesser one, which increases the chances of a better offer.

If you do decide to look for a different position while still working, here are some tips to consider:

Do It on the Sly

Don’t announce to your boss or even your co-workers that you are looking for another job as this will likely backfire on you. If your employer learns that you will be leaving in the near future, they will start looking for a replacement; when they find that person, they will let you go. Thus, you may be out of your current job before getting a new one.  Also, keep this a secret from your fellow employees, unless they are longtime friends you know you can trust.

Don’t Perform Your Job Search While at Work

You want to keep your current job until a new one is secured, so you need to keep up with your current responsibilities. Don’t spend work time sending our your CV, filling out applications, or doing anything else related to job search. Getting caught doing so means awkward explanations.

Watch What You Say at Interviews

It can be tempting to badmouth your current boss and company at job interviews. However, this is a bad idea all around. Not only does it make you seem unprofessional, it can backfire: if you don’t get that job, word can get back to your employer. Avoid taking the low road and mention in your interview that you would like your job search to remain confidential.

Three Tips for Business Success

Attaining business success can mean trying out a lot of different strategies and discovering what works. Some of these can be quite specific to that industry, while others have general application across a number of different organizations.

Here are three success tips that will apply to most any business venture:

Capitalize on Your Strengths

Chances are it was a particular set of skills that set your down your current path. You saw an opportunity, realized that you had the ability to capitalize on it, and surrounded yourself with people who could help you achieve you goal. However, in the thick of things, it can be easy to forget that considerable resource. Unsure of how to proceed in a certain area? Talk to your team and solicit their advice. The best solutions are often crafted from multiple contributions.

Craft a Plan, but Be Ready to Improvise

No successful business venture ever arose from a plan that was completely inflexible. No one has a crystal ball that allows them to fully predict how the market or relationships with other businesses might change without warning. Come up with a master strategy, but supplement it with a contingency plan. Putting all of your eggs in one basket may seem feasible and cost-effective, but it’s very risky and displays a lack of forward-thinking that can trip you up down the line.

Don’t Forget the Big Picture

We always have a master goal when entering into a business venture and keeping it in mind throughout the development stages is important to ensure efficiency and overall success (e.g. how will each phase of development lead to the desired result?). Remembering your overall goal can also help during times when things are not going to plan. The problems and potential strife still have to be dealt with, but the pain you encounter during the process will be tempered, if you keep that final result in mind.