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Samantha McDonald

SmartCompany /

Lean times don’t have to be mean times. If you have a financial squeeze coming up, start planning for it now.

Christmas crunch

Samantha McDonald

Can you believe it’s less than six weeks until Christmas? Very scary indeed! Hmmm … I can feel the shops looming …

One of my clients is a manager in a small business, which the owners intend to close for six weeks over Christmas. They say that trade is notoriously slow in their industry at that time of year and so there is no point being open and paying everyone if there is no work to do. The problem is that the manager and most of the staff are casuals, which means their income will have a six-week break – no fun in anyone’s language at Christmas time…

Understandably, by the time he came to see me, my client was quite upset and very concerned about his and his family’s well being over the coming “festive” season, with only his wife’s income to get them through. So we worked on a plan, and by the time he left, he felt a lot better. Here’s what we came up with:

  1. Write a budget NOW. As soon as you know that you have a lean period coming up, sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and work out exactly how much money you’ll be getting in and how much money you’ll be giving out. Work the numbers until the money coming in is more than the money going out, even if it’s only slightly. This may mean cutting back on things that aren’t necessities and coming up with clever ways to make your money last.
  2. Use your credit card, but plan to pay it off. OK, if you can’t get the budget to work as you’d like, you may have to use your cards but the last thing you want is to be paying off heavy interest bills for the whole of next year. Plan to pay a little off your card every month so that you’re less likely to feel the pinch.
  3. Create a savings plan for next year. This won’t help you for this year, but at least you can have the foresight to prepare in case this happens again next year. Plan to put aside a small amount of money every week, and you’ll soon find that you have a nice little nest egg to get you through.
  4. Spend your time wisely. In my client’s case, his six weeks off at Christmas is like an enforced break. As soon as you can see the positive side of that, you’ll be able to start planning how you’re going to spend your time. Make the most of the time off, you don’t get it very often! And, if money is going to be tight, do some research and arrange some cheap outings or days at the beach that will be light on your pocket but heavy on the fun!

Sometimes it’s important to remember that you can’t control everything, and that things just happen. So, if you find yourself in a situation where you have little or no income coming in over Christmas this year, put your cheery face on and think of clever ways to get through. Remember, it’s meant to be a Happy Christmas…

To read more Samantha McDonald blogs, click here.

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