Kristen Ahlenius—A few months ago on social media a challenge gained a lot of traction. Parents and guardians set up a camera to record just how disciplined their children were, or in most cases, how disciplined they weren’t. The majority of parent scientists used small portions of candy to try and tempt the child after giving explicit instructions to not eat the treats. They (the parents) set up the candy in front of the camera, told their children they weren’t to eat the candy, and then left the room. If you didn’t see one of these videos I’m sure you can guess how well this went over for most. Toddlers just couldn’t resist the sweet temptations. With their parents and their authority out of sight they were also out of mind. Of course, there were some who sustained, but this didn’t seem to be the majority of the videos recorded. Many adults (myself included) loved to see the reactions of the kids and watched in anticipation to see how long they could wait to receive their perceived reward.
It was easy to write off the inability of a child to wait for the thing they wanted. Collectively, we’re no better at waiting and frankly we should know better. You can finance just about anything you’d like to purchase from your at home stationary bike to the apparel launched by your new favorite brand. There are a slew of financing options available from more traditional credit cards to after-pay programs. They all have one thing in common - you weren’t able to wait.I urge you, especially as we head into the holiday season to remain budget conscious. If you’re unable to pay cash, slide your debit card, or pay off your credit card immediately after purchase, wait. Practice the discipline we mocked toddlers for lacking and save up the funds to purchase gifts or to snag those coveted Black Friday deals. Frankly, it doesn’t matter how good of a deal it is if you can’t objectively afford the purchase. In order to be financially successful through the end of the year you need to make a list and set a budget for holiday spending. There are two approaches you can take in terms of a holiday budget either a top down or a bottom up approach.A top down approach begins with a total amount to spend over the season. Let’s say you’ve decided to spend $300 on gifts for the entire season. You should then create a list of persons/events you’ll need to buy for and distribute this $300 how you see fit. Alternatively, you could work a bottom up approach.A bottom up approach will start with the individuals you wish to buy for with a dollar amount per person limit. You can build your holiday budget by determining the amount you wish to spend per gift recipient. This ensures you’re spending remains in line with your goals throughout your shopping. Finally, remember this holiday season is going to look different than any we’ve yet experienced. If you’re not in a position to purchase gifts just remember gifts aren’t the reason for the season anyway. If your family normally participates in exchanges consider speaking up to reduce the dollar limit, exchange gifts, or participate in a white elephant style exchange. There should be no shame in securing your financial stability, especially this year.