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Avoiding A “Financial Hangover” During The Holidays

Career

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1

Adjust Your Budget & Stick To It

Even if you plan to be frugal, there’s pretty much no way around the fact that the holiday months will cost you more than other months of the year. But you can prepare yourself for the inflated costs during the holidays by planning ahead. Rather than scrambling to buy last-minute gifts or holiday outfit and charging it all to your credit cards, consider planning for the holidays ahead of time. Consider listing out who you need to buy gifts for and set a spending limit. Think about whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner or any holiday dinner parties and how much you should budget for food and alcohol. Fancy New Year’s Eve plans? Estimate your costs for that too. Once you’ve estimated these various costs, add them into your budget and make sure you stick to your limits. Consider setting extra money aside each month in the time leading up to the holidays, so that when it comes time to spend, you already have extra cash on hand.

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Avoid blowing your gift budget and giving yourself a financial headache by taking time to start shopping sooner rather than later – this will allow you to comparison shop, keep an eye out for sales, and give you the time to find less expensive but meaningful gifts

2

Put Down The Plastic

Holiday shopping usually means racking up your credit cards – which is where the headache of the January “financial” hangover comes in. However, if you budget and save money ahead of time to use towards holiday gifts and indulgences, you should be able to avoid using credit cards altogether. If you must use credit cards, try to choose one that gives you rewards points or cash back, and make sure you are able to pay more than the minimum each month so you don’t end up paying tons in interest as you pay off the balance.

3

Be Smart About Gifting

One of the biggest expenses during the holidays are gifts. Common mistakes that lead to overspending are not planning what to buy ahead, leaving shopping to the last minute (which can lead to abandoning your plan in favor of buying whatever’s convenient), and buying something expensive from a big brand name rather than something personal and thoughtful. Avoid blowing your gift budget and giving yourself a financial headache by taking time to start shopping sooner rather than later – this will allow you to comparison shop, keep an eye out for sales, and give you the time to find less expensive but meaningful gifts, rather than just caving in and buying something expensive at the last second. Bonus: you’ll avoid a real headache by getting your shopping out of the way early!

4

Have a Holiday Trip, Not a Guilt Trip

Don’t let your vacation put you into debt. If planning to travel during the holidays – whether taking a tropical vacation or visiting family – there are measures you can take to avoid over-spending. The holidays are almost always more expensive when it comes to hotel and airfare rates, so your best bet for saving money is to book sooner rather than later. This will allow you time to shop around online for the best prices and keep an eye out for sales. You may also want to consider renting a home or apartment on Airbnb, rather than stay in a hotel. Set a budget for things like activities and dining out and make sure you stick to it.

5

Say No

Avoid unexpected expenses during the holiday season by knowing your limits and staying within them. If a holiday party or activity comes up that will put you over-budget, you may just have to say no. Know your financial limits, and avoid social activities or purchases that your budget doesn’t allow for; there will still be plenty of fun to be had during the holidays and you’ll thank yourself later!

The holidays are meant to be enjoyable and a time for indulgence – and while you may putting on a few extra pounds or having a few late nights may be unavoidable, a financial hangover is. All it takes to avoid the holiday financial hangover is some awareness and planning ahead.

This will allow you to start January fresh and ready to tackle your financial resolutions, rather than playing catch up with your credit card bills.

7min read
Culture

The Middle East And North Africa Are Brimming With Untapped Female Potential

Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.


A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.

The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.

Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")

The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."

This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.

Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.

She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."

Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.

"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei

While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.

Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.

The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."

This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.

Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.