Don’t overspend this Christmas
Christmas is the time of year when we tend to overdo everything. There are so many invitations out, gifts to buy and endless food that it can put a strain on our finances. If we aren’t careful, we can wind up overstretching budgets and struggling with debt.
“I think the most important money advice for Christmas is to think ‘how much do I have to spend?’ rather than ‘what do I have to buy?’,” says Jasmine Birtles, financial expert and founder of the Moneymagpie website. “If you only have £50, then that’s what you spend. Don’t get into borrowing. It’s hard for you and your family if you’re weighed down with worry about a large debt.”
Give yourself a gift this December by spending less. “Ask yourself how you can get things for free or cheaply,” says Jasmine. If you’re not signed up to a voucher or loyalty points’ rewards scheme with your local supermarket or high street chemist, you’re missing out. Each year there are various offers from the major supermarkets and many people can use points that they have accrued all year just by doing their regular shopping, and swap these for gifts such as perfume or children’s toys. The high street chemists often run points schemes that you can then exchange for items in store – it’s a great way to give gifts without breaking the bank.
“Try some ‘negative shopping’,” suggests Jasmine. “Go round the house and sell things you don’t want on eBay or at car boot sales. You can also recycle gifts you’ve been given and don’t want or need. I have a present box going all year round, where I put any great bargains I’ve bought through the year or gifts I haven’t opened.”
If you can’t afford to buy presents, make biscuits, cakes or even chutneys, and put them in nice tins or jars. If you’ve got a creative streak, try buying items cheaply from your local craft shop and paint a small canvas, or make a nice piece of unique jewellery for someone. The additional effort to create the gift and the personal touch will be even more appreciated than buying an extravagant gift.
If money is really tight, give a gift of your time. “It’s OK to say ‘I haven’t any money, but I do love you, and this is what I’m giving you’,” says Jasmine. “It could be three babysitting vouchers, a day out with a picnic, or four hours gardening. For older people it could just be a gift of your company. It doesn’t matter, as long as you give a voucher or card that looks lovely and says what the present is.”
Here’s to a less extravagant Christmas and a solvent New Year. Cheers!