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Ask Luna: Can you help me stick to a holiday budget?

Published 4 months ago • 3 min read

A weekly newsletter from Dr. Brenda, Money Coach

Ask Luna: Can you help me stick to a holiday budget?

Oh, those Sneaky Expenses

I just returned from six days in the rugged splendor of Death Valley National Park. A dream, right? But, as an RVer, I had to deal with my biggest villain – gasoline prices. I shelled out a whopping $600 just to get my rig to and from Death Valley. And that’s not even counting the jaunts in my Jeep within the park. Just like my gas guzzler gobbled up my budget, those sneaky holiday costs can play the same trick.

You might have your gift budget down to a science, knowing exactly what each person on your list is getting. You've hunted bargains, snagged deals, and you're feeling pretty smug about your savvy savings. But then, the plot twist – January rolls in, and with it, your credit card bill, leaving you gaping and asking, "Did I really spend that much?" While gifts were the star of your budgeting show, a crowd of unassuming expenses snuck in backstage. These include:

  • Those irresistible food and drinks at holiday luncheons and happy hours.
  • Festive decorations turning your home into a winter wonderland.
  • That holiday-themed attire or special outfit for the gala event.
  • Small, but mighty, gift exchanges at work or with pals.
  • Babysitting fees for those grown-ups only soirées.
  • Travel costs for those must-attend events or heartfelt family visits.

Just like my eye-watering transport costs made me rethink my 'treat-myself' getaway, these hidden holiday expenses can steal the joy faster than Scrooge on a bad day. Let's not let these surprises dampen our festive spirits!

Budget Strategies

Behold the sunset from Dante's View in Death Valley National Park – a sight that truly pays dividends in awe and wonder! It's moments like these that remind us some things in life are simply priceless. Similarly, evaluating the true value of our holiday spending can be a bit like trying to quantify the beauty of a sunset. It's a complex, often subjective task. But fear not, for we have ChatGPT (whom I fondly call "Luna") to guide us through the maze of budgeting.

Ready to dive into an AI-assisted adventure? With Luna as our co-pilot, we'll navigate the often choppy financial seas of the holiday season.

Here are your Foolproof Instructions:

1. You'll need ChatGPT, and it's as free and breezy as a Californian sunset - here's the link: You can also use the app on your phone.

2. Copy and paste the nifty prompt below into the ChatGPT box, where it says "Send a message."

3. Use your personal details. Replace the highlighted text with your own magic.

4. Hit 'Enter' and prepare to be AMAZED!

Your Super-Duper Most Awesome Prompt

You are a Financial Coach, specializing in holiday budgeting. Your focus today is on helping me manage those "hidden" expenses that pop up in December - like decorating the house, buying small gifts for office mates and friends, and attending holiday luncheons and events. Please help me create a detailed budget and suggest strategies that will help me stick to this budget. The total amount I'd like to spend on these types of expenses is [add your budget amount].

** NOTE: Feel free to modify the examples of "hidden" expenses to reflect your spending habits.

Luna's Holiday Budgeting Advice

Once more, Luna delivered some spot-on advice. We conjured up a holiday budget of $300, and she ingeniously divvied it up: $60 for transforming my home into a Yuletide haven, $100 for thoughtful, small presents, $80 dedicated to those merry luncheons and events, and $60 reserved for those all-important extras (think postage and those surprise gifts). And no, Luna didn't budget for festive Santa outfits for my cats – maybe next year!

But the real magic happened when Luna dished out some wallet-friendly tips. Here's where she truly sparkled – laying out strategies to ensure I stick to my festive financial plan. Among the treasure trove of advice, these gems stood out:

  • Use cash or prepaid cards: Withdraw your total budget in cash or load it onto a prepaid card. Once it’s gone, that’s it – a great way to curb overspending.
  • Set expectations with others: If you’re exchanging gifts, suggest a spending limit. It helps everyone stay within their means.
  • Prioritize experiences over things: Sometimes, the best gift is quality time spent together. Consider low-cost or free holiday activities.

Got a Question for Luna?

Got a question that's simmering in your mind, or a captivating concept you're itching to explore with Luna? Please, let your ideas flow freely! Shoot them over to me, and together, we'll brew up a prompt that's not only delightful but also intellectually engaging. Let's keep our journey with Luna vibrant and ever-evolving. Your input is the magic ingredient in this exciting expedition of discovery and fun!

Get Ready for the Ride: Money Road Trip is Almost Here!

I'm thrilled to announce that the manuscript for "Money Road Trip" is almost crossing the finish line, and the journey to finalizing the book cover is in its final stretch. So, here's a little nudge: consider reserving a spot in your holiday budget for this exciting read!

I'm offering two flavors of financial wisdom: the classic edition and a tailor-made graduation edition. If your curiosity is piqued, I invite you to taste a free chapter available on my website. Whether it's a treat for yourself or a meaningful gift for someone special, this book is an invaluable companion for anyone navigating the roads of financial freedom. Buckle up for an enlightening journey with "Money Road Trip"!

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Hi! I'm Dr. Brenda

💰 Sociologist, Speaker, Financial Coach, RVer living a life of adventure with her 🐈🐈🐈. See my resources at 🎯 Sign up for my newsletter!

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