Here's To New Traditions: Covid-proofing Your Christmas

Here's To New Traditions: Covid-proofing Your Christmas

Sunday, November 22, 2020

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When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March of this year, it's pretty safe to say nobody could have imagined that eight months later, we'd still be dealing with its effects and repercussions. But here we are. And, with about a month to go before Christmas, there is some apprehension about the approaching holiday season. What will this year's holiday season look like? The answer is, of course: It will be whatever you know it's safest for it to look like for you. Christmas isn't cancelled; it's simply going to take on a different look.

Use COVID strategically

If there is an upside to the current global health crisis it's that it has forced people to look at their relationship with money. Now, more than ever, it is imperative to prioritise the pursuit of financial success. Meaning: Finding ways to control money rather than letting it control you, enslaving you and your family in a prison of debt and poverty.

Now is the time to refine the answer to the critical question: What are the financial goals that are a priority for you in 2021? Are they saving and adjusting your spending habits, establishing alternative income streams, paying down debt, or investing?

If the road to these goals has been a little rocky this year, you can always use this yuletide season to reassess what your approach to achieving them should be. Don't wait until the New Year when everybody's making empty resolutions; if you do, chances are you could be grappling with another problem: Christmas overindulgence.

Create a minimalist holiday budget

In a recent survey revealed on CNBC, 1 in 4 respondents said they're cutting spending, and 22 per cent said COVID-19 had affected their financial security, making them more careful with the amount of money they fork out this holiday. In short, the mass consumerism of past Christmases is out.

This will no doubt be a trend all across the world, but it just might be a good thing; see silver linings when they present themselves. The lesson is to ensure you don't enter 2021 out of pocket. The key to surviving the holiday without financial fallout is to make a budget and stick to it.

While some people are optimistically (some might say, naively) assuming that the new year will see an almost magical reconfiguring (“Things cyaan get any worse.”), the truth is nobody knows this for sure. It isn't trafficking in negativity to say that there is a real possibility that things can remain the way they are for the foreseeable future because the pandemic is showing no signs of letting up. Lockdowns, curfews and social distancing have become, at least for now, an essential way of life around theworld. Economies are feeling the pressure, thus introducing the very real possibility of recession if things continue on a downward trajectory.

With so much uncertainty, it's extremely important to conserve resources now and not break the bank at Christmastime. Avoid unnecessary spending. In Jamaica, there are no guarantees that the labour market won't see further devolving, especially in the industries that have been more pandemic-hit.

Go low-maintenance, introduce new virtual traditions and be innovative with Christmas gift ideas this year. Instead of the usual extravagant Christmas dinner party you're accustomed to hosting, consider a more pared-down meal with your nearest and dearest. This is almost sacrilege to suggest, but, if your finances have taken a bruising as a result of the onslaught of the pandemic, it might be prudent to forgo the usual expensive elements (like the ham) which can leave you broke for the new year. Worse comes to worst, you can even suggest a potluck that everybody can contribute to, to take the pressure off you. Keep in mind that there will eventually be a return to a way of life that looks more like normal; this too shall pass.

Are you someone who usually travels abroad for a white Christmas? This year, save money by holidaying locally. Sure, airline tickets might be trending down because of the state of the airline industry, but save money on tickets and foreign exchange by boosting the faltering local tourism product by maximising on available deals on accommodations across this beautiful country of ours. It's the perfect time to discover Jamaica again. And remember, whether you stay put at home or do a Jamaican road trip, family and loved ones will be there with you; it's as easy as Zoom.

And, instead of, say, buying and exchanging ostentatious presents, which can get pretty pricey pretty quickly, how about family members pooling a set amount of funds to buy one substantial gift to benefit a charity, or even a less-privileged relative in dire need of assistance?

With that said, while you can do what you can to ensure that the holiday spirit does not completely die this Christmas, remember the best gift you can give yourself this year is your commitment to achieving, or, as the case may be, restarting your journey towards financial success in 2021.

It's time to invest in your future.

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