Christmas is a dazzling fanfare for Filipinos who have to consistently battle this season’s temptations brought about by holiday discounts, online and offline.

By the time we receive our 13th month pay, we have been overwhelmed about the seemingly limitless possibilities that an extra month’s salary can bring; after all, Christmas comes once a year, and so does this doubled purchasing power. What we riskily overlook is that, this can also be a perfect time to pay off debts. This, we forget since we get over-excited about acquiring things we can’t normally afford or give gifts. Both are not bad to do.

I’ve been working for fifteen years now and every January, I look back and do a self-audit to know where have all my money gone? When I was much younger, I justified my excesses and it sure took a lot of shameful purchases for me to finally start justifying less and reflect more on my reckless spending habits. Now, I am trying to make December a month of financial redemption from being one of excessiveness.

Here are lessons I learned through years of earning and spending my holiday bonuses:






1. Financial regrets happen later
When all money has been spent after giving in to shopping temptations, I always wish I put it where it could grow. Having my 13th month gave me an illusion that I had plenty of cash when I only had a month’s worth of extra money. Thinking about it now, all those extra cash could have been spent on investing instead.
2. Make gift-giving reasonable
Don’t exhaust all your Christmas bonus trying to give to others that you leave yourself empty. I broke free from this vice by saving half of my 13th month pay and allotting the other half for gifts. Start with baby steps. You also don’t need to give gifts to everyone at work – only to those you share a close interpersonal or working relationship with.


3. Celebrate on a budget

We don’t live for Christmas alone so make sure you still have money for necessities and emergencies after the season.  Stay away from schemes like ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ that will just lead you to believe that you are spending lesser. It’s deliciously tempting but it’s actually just delayed commitment to pay for that new gadget you probably don’t need.



4. Christmas is the time to invest

You don’t have to wait for New Year to invest because as soon as you receive your 13th month pay, you already have the means to do so. The yuletide season is the perfect time to pay-off debts and purposefully look for investment options to turn from that one-day millionaire habit to a life path that does not depend on a payroll calendar.