Beat the Recession this Christmas in 4 Simple Steps
Imagining a Christmas you can afford as well as enjoy might be hard in the current economic climate. Christmas can be stressful and leave you worrying about your bank-balance come January.
The good news is you don’t have to compromise your fun to keep money in your bank. Follow these four simple steps and discover how you can have a fabulous, affordable Christmas this year!
Step One - plan your budget
Set a total budget you can afford for Christmas and stick to it!
If you are able, set aside a certain amount each week between now and Christmas, so you build up a pot of money to spend.
Split your budget between all the things you want to buy e.g. presents, food, decorations, cards, entertainment.
Then split this further so you know exactly how much you will spend on each item. For example if you have 20 presents to buy and you have £200 to spend you have a maximum of £10 to spend on each present – more spent on one means less spent on another.
Step Two - think less expensive
Don’t be persuaded to spend more by a persistent child or by trying to ‘keep up with the Jones’s’. Expensive gifts are generally no better appreciated than cheaper ones – and it can be fun finding presents on a budget.
Here are some ideas to reduce your spend at Christmas:
- Purchase one present, pack of cards, decoration or item of non-perishable food each week up to Christmas to spread the financial burden
- Make rather than buy cards using a pack of card, pencils, pens/crayons, shiny stars, photos of the family or off-cuts from old cards; or send electronic cards (e-cards) which work out much cheaper
- Give presents that cost your time or talents rather than your money - a promise to take the person out for the day or to cook them a lovely meal, a back massage, or something else you’re skilled in
- Make more of the wrapping. The way a gift is presented can make a cheaper present look much more expensive and special
- Give a ‘promise to buy’ written on a nice card, and buy the present in the cheaper January sales
- Club together with other colleagues, siblings or friends and buy a ‘mystery present’. Decide together the total spend on each present, then put names in a hat. Each draw out one name and buy just for that person. Agree when you’ll all put the presents into a sack, so each person receives one present
- Agree a budget with your family - say £5 per present - then enjoy hunting round for fun cheaper presents to swap with each other
Step Three - think ethical
When huge amounts are spent on presents each Christmas, use your money to better and more ethical effect. Buy gifts on behalf of friends and relatives which purchase something to make the lives better of those less well off. For example Oxfam has a whole range of gifts for sending to the Third World starting at around £5 for anything from school equipment to water tanks to goats!
Step Four – think wisely
Unless you pay off all your credit card balance at the end of each month, use cash to pay for all your purchases. It’s much easier to see what you’re spending, and there’ll be no nasty surprises in January.
Buy decorations, cards, etc for next Christmas in January when they are vastly reduced – and don’t forget about them by December!
Start saving a small amount each month from January and you’ll have a substantial spending pot ready by next Christmas.
With all your careful planning and budgeting, you’re now ready for a much happier and more relaxed Christmas – have fun!
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