Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ahead of the Curve--going into the Holidays prepared

I've decided that one of the side benefits of tackling this financial "issue" of mine during the fall is that I get a head start on everyone else.  Normally as a culture we don't clean house financially until a) we make New Year's resolutions and set our budget for the next year, or b) tax season rolls around forcing us to dust off our ledgers and get to business.  I kind like the idea of doing it before that and going into the New Year with some good habits in place (after all, who sticks to resolutions or likes taxes anyway?).

Another benefit to this plan is that we are rapidly heading toward the MOTHER of all BUDGET BUSTERS, aka the holiday season.  Talk about ripe opportunity to practice mindfulness!  After last year's holiday spending hangover, my husband and I made a promise that we weren't going to repeat more of the same this time around.

Since this is a post on budgeting and not on mindful holiday spending, I won't dive into the latter (maybe later this year...).  I just think that now, before the holidays, before tax season, before the end of year, is a good time to set some goals.  Kind of like starting a wellness plan for diet and exercise before the Christmas parties kick in rather than after the pounds pile on.

I've already shared one of my goals, which is to be more mindful generally.  Another one is to pay off our debt (including our mortgage) as quickly as is reasonably possible.  This means paying extra on payments, which incidentally means paying less on faux leather bomber jackets from Target, no matter how cute.  (I know, easier for me to say that now that I have the jacket!)

It also means saving for the future.  We do pretty well with our retirement accounts (meaning that we fund them, not that they're actually doing well.  Stupid housing crash.).  But what we could really improve on is saving for other things, like that car we're going to have to buy when ours eventually dies.  And the kids we'd like to have sometime soon.  And the hardwood flooring I want when our carpet finally gets too gross to handle.  This is where mindfulness might really pay off.

That said, having a strategy in place, with some goals prior to the holidays (when we all spend the bulk of our money for the year) sounds like a pretty smart idea.  I'm glad I thought of it.  We'll see come January if it helped!

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