Monthly Money Mistake – December 2019

Agreeing to do something without thinking about the implications

December is notoriously a large spending month in our household.  Yes, there is spending associated with Christmas but it is also the month where we make our annual charitable donations.

I am happy to report that this month we were able to donate to our 2 charities of choice, our local library, and children’s hospital.  There was no mistake with those actions, although I have to admit, we could be donating more.  Maybe this is something we can look at adjusting for next year.

Last Months’ Money Mistake Follow Up

I’d like to say that I have improved on last month’s money mistake of not tracking monthly expenses.  But I would be lying.  I did not keep up every week with our tracking but rather waiting until the end of the month to catch up.  That being said, I am making a plan going forward to continue to improve on this.

Related Post – Monthly Money Mistake – November 2019

Overall, looking back at all of this year’s monthly money mistakes I have seen consistent improvement.  Both in my spending and in my mindset.  I am by no means perfect and there is still a lot of work to do.  But I am happy with the progress that is being made.

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The Mistake

This month’s money mistake relates to Christmas giving.  I have written previously about how to avoid a transactional Christmas and really tried to focus on that this year.

At work, every year my department all pitches in money to buy gifts for the office administrators that help our school run.  They really all the unsung heroes of any school.  In the past, we have bought them hot chocolate or chocolates.

Although I wanted to celebrate them and give them a gift, I didn’t just want to give them anything just to say that we gave them something.  I got the “brilliant” idea to make them a calendar of pictures of all of us in our department.  I say brilliant because I agreed to this without thinking about the implications of my decision.

I could put the calendar together using Canva and we had all the supplies to print it in house.  We could only need to have it bound by our local stationery supply store. 

The Idea

In theory, this seemed like a great idea.  We could be giving a personalized gift instead of just anything.  And we could be saving a bunch of money by doing it in house.  Or so I assumed.  I never did think about the implications of my decision.

Because it was my idea, I offered to create it all and be responsible for getting them bound.  I did this without doing any research into what the cost would be or any other implication of my decision.  I told my department that I would take care of everything.  

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  But when I went to get the calendars bound, the total came to $67.48.  In the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t seem like a lot, but I thought that this gift would cost much less.  

I was a bit embarrassed that it cost more than I had anticipated.  And so I never told my department about the cost.  Just that I had covered it.

In previous years I would have pitched in $5 for this gift.  Now by coming up with the idea on my own, and not thinking about the implications of my decision, it had cost me $67.48.  I lot more than $5.

The Lesson

The big lesson here is one that keeps coming up for me.  Do research, and make sure I have all the information before agreeing to do something.  Before agreeing to do something, take the time to think about the implications.

I also want to become more mindful of my spending around this time of year.  Even though I try really hard to avoid a transactional Christmas, the holidays are a spending trigger for me.  I love buying other people gifts.  Which is a bit odd considering how uncomfortable I get opening and receiving gifts.

I’m more likely to spend money if it’s on someone else than if it’s on myself.  There is still some work to be done here.

I think there is another lesson here about my relationship with my work colleagues.  I have been working with the same department for over a decade and yet I still do not feel comfortable asking them for money.  

Maybe it is because whenever I have asked in the past everyone makes it into a big ordeal.  On some level, mentally it might have just been easier to for me to fork over the $67.48 than ask everyone else for their share.

Going forward I’m not sure if I would do that calendar again.  Everyone loved them but they took a few hours of my time to create and $67.48.  If as a department we decide that we want to create the calendars again I’m going to ask for help next time.

Ever find yourself agreeing to do something without taking about the implications first? This article provides great action steps for how to avoid this. I am going to share this with all my friends who are workaholics. #handfulofthoughts #risktaking

Action Steps

Although on the surface, this monthly money mistake appears to only relate to Christmas, there are some deeper issues here as mentioned above.  Thinking about the implications of agreeing to something has year-round applications.  Here are some action steps I can take to help mitigate this in the future:

  • Avoid agreeing to do something on the spot
    • Before agreeing to take on any new project take some time to research what taking on the project will mean (especially in regards to my time and money).  Taking at least a few moments to think about the implications of my decision.
  • Make a list and budget for everyone I intend to buy gifts for
    • Having a budget gamifies buying gifts as I try to get the best deal possible
  • If I feel uncomfortable talking face to face with my department (especially when asking for money), I can always send it out in our department group chat.  Or ask a close colleague for help.

Every time I feel like I’m making progress financially, little things always seem to pop up.  There are overarching themes here that can have a huge impact when I address them.  

I big one is continuing to be mindful of my spending.  Not only with each transaction, but how each transaction aligns with the whole of my financial goals.  I don’t want to feel restricted, but I also want to avoid buyer’s regret.

What was your money mistake this month?

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