Christmas may be five weeks away but it’s beginning to feel as though it’s already here. How will you be paying for yours?
The decorations, cards and puddings have been in the shops for some time now and everybody is talking about what they plan to do over the festive season. Maybe it’s because 2012 has been such a tough year for many people financially that we’re all looking forward to something cheery – just like the boost the bad weather has given some of us this week.
The difficulty is that, as much fun as Christmas is, it can create the same old dilemmas year in and year out. The temptation is always to spend too much money. We want to show our loved ones we care and, if we believe the advertisements we see, the most obvious way to do that is to lavish them with gifts. And even though I’ve spent more than three years now trying to live more simply, I still have to fight the instinct to spoil my friends and relatives.
In my own personal moneysaving arsenal are some frugal Christmas spending tips I try to adhere to each year. Here are a few of them below (if you have your own, I’d love to hear about them too, so do get in touch):
1. Plan ahead. Know exactly what you’ll be paying for and when. Make a list of everyone you intend to buy presents for and how much you want to spend. Create a Christmas budget for present buying, food, booze and going out. It might be too late now but, if you can, squirrel some money away earlier in the year to go towards paying for Christmas so you aren’t caught out in December. Look out for present bargains in sales during the year.
2. Stick to your guns. Don’t be pressurised into spending more than you need to or buying unnecessary presents for friends that you can’t afford. If you decide you’re only going to spend £5 or £10 on each person, for example, do so and don’t be tempted to spend more. If other friends press you to exchange gifts with them, tell them that you’re decluttering your home and you don’t want anything new or be honest and say you don’t want to and can’t afford it. You might find that some of them will be relieved.
3. Remember it’s the thought that counts. It’s a cliché but that’s because it’s the truth – it’s not the amount of money that you spend on a loved one that matters, it’s the thought that’s gone into it. It’s better to buy something inexpensive that your Mum or partner actually wants than a whole pile of stuff that will end up on Ebay. If in doubt, ask them what they would like.
4. Plan your Christmas meals. Trolleys piled high with enough to feed the five thousand and panic at the tills are still familiar sights in the run up to Christmas, despite the popularity of internet shopping. Make a rough plan of your meals and activities over the festive season to ensure you don’t waste any grub. You’ll probably find that you don’t need to spend anything like as much as you think on food. Whether you’re having turkey, duck or chicken – or a vegetarian alternative – it will probably do for a number of servings, so make sure you have some good recipes up your sleeve to avoid turkey overload. If you have guests coming over, get them to contribute by providing wine, beer, making a Christmas pud or bringing over some DVDs to entertain everybody.
5. Enjoy yourself and relax. It’s easy to forget that Christmas isn’t simply an exercise in excessive shopping and eating. Regardless of your religious beliefs, it’s a time to take a break and enjoy the company of loved ones and friends. Try to have fun that won’t cost you a fortune, like going for walks, having a good gossip or a home-cooked meal with friends or maybe a nice relaxing soak in the bath with some lighted candles to wash away the Christmas stress.
What are your own Christmas spending tips? Got any good ideas for low cost presents?
Leave a message and let me know.