If you wake up on January 2 and find that your waistline has grown but your bank balance has shrunk, you’re not alone. Holiday temptations are everywhere, and it’s hard to resist the seasonal urges to bust your budget—and your diet. Once the holidays are over, you wonder what came over you—and you vow to do better next year.
The time to think about what you can do differently is BEFORE the holidays, when you can calmly identify the triggers that cause you to overeat and overspend, and come up with some strategies to deal with them.
Buffet strategies: First, a big DON’T. Don’t starve yourself all day before a big event, thinking you can save up the calories to spend at the party—spend them you will, as your hunger leads you to demolish the cheese ball in the first 10 minutes. Better to eat lightly throughout the day, including a healthy snack or a bowl of soup just before you leave.
When you arrive, check out the buffet or the menu and identify the safest options—raw veggies, salsa, pretzels, shrimp, and lean ham or roast beef can all be enjoyed in moderation. Stay away from the dips, gooey cheeses, and anything with a creamy sauce, and watch yourself around crackers and chips. Best advice: serve yourself a reasonable portion, and walk away from the food. After all, the main idea of a holiday party is to socialize, right? The more you talk and laugh with friends the less you’ll eat!
But it is a special time of year, and most of us have favorite holiday foods that we look forward to all year long. If the season just wouldn’t be complete without a cup of creamy eggnog or a plate of your grandma’s pierogies, go for it. Then take the dog for a nice long walk.
Keeping spending under control: With a little advance planning and outside-the-giftbox thinking, you can celebrate like Santa while spending like Scrooge. Start by eliminating the words “But we always . . .” from your vocabulary. Just because you always spend lavishly on gifts doesn’t mean you can’t change things this year. Get together with family to set a spending limit or start a grab-bag—most likely they’ll all be glad for the change.
The earlier you shop the more likely you are to keep within your budget. If you start NOW, you can still take the time to shop the sales, choose gifts that are more about thoughtfulness than price, and avoid the last-minute panic that leads to overspending. To avoid the holiday budget crunch altogether, check out Standard Bank’s savings account options. Choose an amount you can afford, set up an automatic deposit, and be ready with cash in hand when the 2012 holiday season rolls around.