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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
I have always been in love with all things art- I was obsessed with drawing and painting before I was even walking. In high school, I started a career selling art through various gallery art shows and on Etsy. I then went on to study fine arts at the University of Southern California, with an emphasis in painting, but took classes in ceramics, printmaking, cinema and architecture to get a really well-rounded education on all sorts of art.
During my senior year of college, my career path went through a huge transition; I started my own temporary tattoo brand, INKED by Dani, which is a brand of temporary tattoos based on my hand-drawn fine art designs.
The idea for the brand came one night after a themed party at college. My friends, knowing how much I loved drawing, asked me to cover them in hand-drawn doodles using eyeliner. The feedback from that night was overwhelming, everyone my friends saw that night was obsessed with the designs. In that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head... I could do some completely unique here and create chic temporary tattoos with an art-driven aesthetic, unlike anything else on the market. Other temporary tattoo brands were targeted to kids or lacked a sleek and millennial-driven look. It was a perfect pivot; I could utilize my fine arts training and tattoos as a new art medium to create a completely innovative brand.
Using the money I made from selling my artwork throughout high school and college, I funded the launch of INKED by Dani. I had always loved the look of dainty tattoos, but knew I could never commit to the real thing, and I knew my parents would kill me if I got a tattoo (I also knew that so many girls must have that same conflict). Starting INKED by Dani was a no-brainer.
I started off with a collection of about only 10 designs and sold them at sorority houses around USC. Our unique concept for on-trend and fashion-forward tattoos was spreading through word of mouth, and we quickly started growing an Instagram following. I was hustling all day from my room, cold calling retailers, sending blind samples and tons of emails, and trying to open up as many opportunities as I could.
Now, we're sold at over 10,000 retail locations (retailers include Target, Walmart, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Hot Topic), and we've transformed temporary tattoos into a whole new form of wearable art.
My 4 best tips for starting your own business are:
- Just go with your gut! You'll never know what works until you try it. Go day by day and do everything in your power to work toward your goals. Be bold, but be sure to be thoughtful in your actions.
- Research your competitors and other successful brands in your category to determine how you can make your product stand out. Figure out where there is a need or hole in the market that your new offering or approach can fill.
- Don't spread yourself too thin. Delegate where possible, and stay focused each day on doing the best and most you can. Don't get too caught up in your end goal or the big picture to a point where it overwhelms or freezes you. You're already making a bold move to start something new, so try to prioritize what's important! I started off in the beginning hand packing every single tattoo pack that we sold and shipped. If I wanted to scale to align with the level of demand we were receiving, I needed to make the pivot to mass produce and relinquish the control of doing every step myself. I am a total perfectionist, so that was definitely hard! From that point on, overseeing production has been a huge part of my daily schedule, but by doing so I've been able to free up more time to focus on design, merchandising, and sales, allowing me to really focus on growing the business.
- Prioritize great product packaging and branding. It's so important to invest time in customer experience- how customers view and interact with your product. The packaging is just as important as the actual product inside! When we were starting off, we had high demand, and I definitely jumped the gun a bit on packaging so we could deliver product to the retailers when they wanted it. Since then, we've completely revamped the packaging into something upscale and unique that reflects what the brand is all about. Our product packaging is always called out as being one of our retailers' and customers' favorite part of our product!