As a business owner, Christmas is the perfect time to give back to your clients, customers and employees. However, sometimes I have to play devil’s advocate with my clients when it comes to their Christmas shopping sprees.
As a bookkeeper, it’s my duty to rein in my clients’ spending so their books are balanced at the end of the year. It’s not much fun telling people they have a limit on their Christmas budget, but it must be done for their business to stay healthy.
I’ve seen too many business owners go overboard when spending for Christmas that they run into trouble when the new year arrives. I think it’s fine to splurge occasionally, especially if that person truly deserves it, but it shouldn’t be a regular thing every year.
Furthermore, gifts may not be as emotionally satisfying as you think they are. This well-cited study shows that most people feel happier spending money on experiences compared to buying things.
The memories made and the time spent far outlast any giddiness you feel when opening a present, which tends to dissipate after you get used to the gift. As an alternative, treat your loved ones and employees to a new experience or offer help instead of buying expensive gifts.
In preparation for the festive season, this is my list of tips to help you plan a Christmas gift list that won’t burn a hole in your pocket or disrupt your business plans.
- Set a budget
And stick to it. Never go above what you can afford to spend because you will be paying for it when times get tough. You can get your bookkeeper to draft a realistic budget or they can check your accounts to see if your budget makes sense for your business. Record your budget and expenses somewhere, preferably in your accounting software.
Obviously, if you’ve made better profit this year, then you can increase the budget to treat your hardworking partners, employees and family members who have tirelessly supported you. If you’re at the losing end, then opt for something low key or do something nice for them instead.
- Make a list
Don’t just make a list. Put the estimated price for each item. Tally them up and see whether you can afford them. If the bill is too big, find cheaper alternatives or pay them a favour instead. Most people appreciate the thought rather than the gift itself.
- Get creative with gifts
As mentioned above, experience trumps material things. Start crafting up creative ideas for your loved ones. Your spouse may appreciate a delightful dining experience at a highly rated restaurant than a new phone. Your employees may appreciate extra time off from work instead of a big year-end soiree.
Try offering help when needed. Helping a busy friend attend an acclaimed musical while you babysit their kids may be more welcomed than a nice trinket for Christmas.
- Use your credit card wisely
It’s so tempting to swipe, swipe and swipe your credit cards for Christmas. After all, you can worry about the bill after you’re back at work… next year! I always advise my clients to pay in full every month because credit card rates are high – up to 24% a year.
You may swipe your card to earn points, which you can redeem, but always pay in full or as much as you can every month. Change your spending limit if necessary, so you will never owe more than what you can afford to pay.
- Scour for a bargain
You should research prices ahead of time, so you can buy the items when they go on sale. Don’t shop at the last minute because you will be paying through your nose. Make a list, and tackle them one by one. If you spend some time, you will find plenty of bargains and online coupons for that gift or experience you have been eyeing.
- Personalise your gifts
If you have time, try to make each gift personal. It could be as simple as a handwritten card, or spending an extra hour with your dad at the golf course to listen to his problems. Nothing spells unforgettable than the effort and care you show.
These are just a few tips for Christmas shopping. Always remember you still have a business to run after the holiday ends. If you need to treat yourself at the end of year, do it wisely without breaking the bank. Take less than what you need to ensure you have enough for rainy days.
We are more than happy to speak to you if you need bookkeepers who will keep your finances in check. Have fun shopping!
Specialising in Xero bookkeeping, Notch Above is a Brisbane bookkeeper and BAS Agent located in Alderley that offers Xero setup, as well as training and ongoing support. Notch Above can take care of all the bookkeeping tasks you would rather not do, like bank reconciliations, supplier payments, payroll services, debtor control and BAS returns.
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