Surviving Christmas

Let’s face it for some people CHRISTMAS can be a stressful time. Over the next few weeks Operation Transformations’ Dr. Eddie will look at ways of ensuring you Survive Christmas. In reality Christmas can be a very stressful time for families and so it is worth knowing what to look out for and how to reduce that stress.

Let’s face it for some people CHRISTMAS can be a stressful time. Over the next few weeks Operation Transformations’ Dr. Eddie will look at ways of ensuring you Survive Christmas. In reality Christmas can be a very stressful time for families and so it is worth knowing what to look out for and how to reduce that stress.

For many parents the thought of Christmas 2012 is a frightening prospect. Already debt burdened parents are not in the mood for Christmas cheer. This traditional time of “peace on earth and goodwill to all”, can leave a financial hangover that causes stress such that overspending can often rob us of that peace.

The reason for this is that so many families live from day to day often playing catch-up with their finances. What causes a money crisis in the lives of many of us is when something unexpected happens. It may be that the car needs a major repair, or there is a period we are out of work or we receive an unexpected bill – sometimes it’s the cost of Christmas that pushes us over the financial edge. These things can cause us to go into debt that leaves us struggling for a long time afterwards.

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TOP TIPS TO AVOID A CHRISTMAS FINANICAL HANGOVER 
1.Plan Budget and Review

Fail to plan, plan to fail. It’s not too late to start with a realistic viewpoint and budget accordingly.

Work out how much you are going to spend on each person –and stick to it. Manage expectations as to what you or Santa can give. With the budget looming the word itself is a turnoff.Hey, remember a budget is simply a plan that tells you what you earn and, firstly, where you MUST spend it and, secondly, where you would LIKE to spend what is left over. That means, a budget is not a constraint to spending but a plan that gives you confidence to spend on things you would like without going into debt. Tracking your finances enables you to see whether or not you are keeping to your budget. If you’re not, you can see where you are overspending and work out what to do about it.

Financial peace of mind comes from tracking your income and expenses because, by doing this, you know your household operating costs and will know ahead of time that the money you require for something is there.
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2.Don’t forget the everyday bills

Remember that rent, the mortgage, utility bills, food bills and other existing debts still have to be paid – and the consequences can be severe if they’re not. Even though it’s Christmas,

get your priorities right.

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3.Santa has a list for a reason

Santa knows what he’s doing. Making a list is crucial for Christmas shopping. Checking it twice is optional, but that’s not a bad idea either. If you hit the stores without your Christmas list, you’re likely to overspend and impulse buying. Leave the credit card at home.

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4.Distinguish Between a Need and a Want

A need is something you have to have, something you can’t do without, e.g. food, clothes and shelter. A want is something you would like to have. It is not absolutely necessary, but it would be a good thing to have. Often at Christmas we confuse wants with needs. What are your needs and Wants?

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5.Passing on our financial skills to our children.

We need to manage our children’s expectations. In so many cases they are well used to getting what they want when they want it. So given that we now need to reign in our own spending let’s teach them to reign in their expectations and learn some lifelong skills. 

The use of credit and debit cards can obscure the role and value of money. by using card transactions children will have no concept of how much money we are spending. Returning to cash is important to give them a clear sense of the quantity of money involved in a buying particular items. Children also need to be spending their own money if they are to get a true sense of its value.

Pocket money can be a great tool for parents and children. For example, parents can start to explain the cost of other items in terms of the number of weeks of your child’s pocket money!

Starting at a low base with the opportunity to earn extra money for extra help is also a good thing. For this Christmas don’t be afraid to say no.

Learning to cope with disappointment can be just the motivator required to encourage our children to work hard, save hard and then really enjoy the fruits of their labour. I will look at this in more detail in an article in the New Year.

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PS Thanks to a number of schools and groups who have asked me to do a parenting and bullying talks recently. If you are interested in this don’t hesitate to contact me

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Dr Eddie Murphy runs a psychology and counselling practice in Portarlington, helping with panic attacks, anxiety, anger, depression, PTSD, etc for children, adults and families. Call 087 1302899 or visit www.dreddiemurphy.ie

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As well as his counselling practice, Dr Eddie does talks, training and workshops for school, community, voluntary, sporting and work groups. Call 087 1302899 or visit www.dreddiemurphy.ie