It is just 76 days to Christmas, a time for family celebration, for giving and receiving, a time to be lavish, to eat drink and be merry!……….. Or is it?!
These days Christmas seems to add undue financial stress onto the modern day family and our expectations on gifts are getting more extravagant with spending sprees leading up to Christmas causing unnecessary debts that are being paid back during the course of the following year. Is that really going to make you Merry??!!
Why do we spend so much money at Christmas? We all know that the one of the main reasons we have the custom of giving and receiving presents at, is to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men: Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh. We then developed ‘Farther Christmas’, the giver of gifts who turned up in the middle of the night and gave gifts to all of the children who had been good throughout the year.
Now it seems that commercialism has hijacked the spiritual meaning of Christmas with retailers raising their media campaign efforts with the message of indulgence which puts pressure on consumers to ignore their current economic worries and indulge in extravagant Christmas shopping. Consumers are coerced to spend more and more as the commercial market hugely profits and consumers rack up debts.
So how can we avoid getting caught up in this modern day commercialism of Christmas and the debt it leads to?
1. BE PREPARED
Start a Christmas ‘box’ and start filling it up as early as the January before! Buy Christmas cards, wrapping paper, decorations and even some gifts in the sales for half price. Remember Christmas puddings can last up to a year after purchase so you always buy these as early as the January for next to nothing and store them until December!
Start a Christmas fund – easier said than done… but if you can afford to pay back monthly debts racked up from your Christmas purchases, get out of this cycle and instead start to put away a realistic amount of money each month.
Look at purchasing gifts as early as September to spread the cost and start to buy food and drink items which are not perishable. Add 1 or 2 items each time you do your weekly food shopping. Before you know it your box will be brimming with Christmas chocolates and booze and your freezer with canapés and sweet treats!
2. MAKE MONEY
This time of year is easier to make money than any other. Have a good sort out of clothes, household items and children’s toys that you no longer use and put them on EBay. Your used goods are someone else’s new goods. You will be surprised at what people buy and the amount of money you can generate just from having a good old clear out.
If you live in an area which is located near to major venues, busy commercial places of work or an airport and have a spare car parking space, rent it out. You can easily undercut the prices that are currently being paid at car parks and you could make as much as £200 per month or more depending on the area you live in. There are websites where you can advertise your car parking space for free such as Parklet and Just park. This will give you that extra cash you need for Christmas.
3. DISCOUNT STORES
It is no secret that times are tough which is why the discounted Supermarkets are gaining market share and strongly competing against the bigger supermarkets. The main difference is that the brands that are stocked in stores such as Aldi and Lidl are not as recognisable as the household brand names stocked by the larger supermarkets, but it does not mean that the quality is any less.
Both Aldi and Lidl make a cost effective way of stocking up with Christmas fair without comprising on quality. Aldi has won various awards for their products including their Christmas pudding which was voted better than M&S! Aldi and Lidl have also been recognised for selling good quality unbranded alcohol and wine at just a snip of the price of the branded ones, including a great alternative to Baileys – Balleycastle Irish Cream at just £4.29. So stock up on unbranded items to help save the pounds.
For gift ideas take a look on the discount websites for not only products but experiences. mojoodeals.co.uk have just branched into products and has a separate category just for Christmas Gifts. As mojoodeals.co.uk will only advertise products which are discounted, money saving is 100% guaranteed.
Groupon, Travel Zoo and Amazon Local are reliable sources for purchasing discounted experiences. Taking Mum or Grandma to high tea at a local 5* establishment or Dad for a tour round his favourite football ground would not break the bank but would make a special Christmas present. Tours of premier leagues clubs can be purchased starting as little as £6pp. There are some fantastic deals and inspiring ideas available which will not break the bank.
EBay – If you’re selling your unwanted items to make some extra cash at Christmas, so are others. You can pick up brand new boxed unwanted items on EBay for less than half the price if you’re purchased the product in store. EBay is a great money saving way of buying brand new gifts for less.
4. BE CREATIVE
Be creative and give gifts that mean something, although this not for everyone. You can spend very little and make some great gifts for your loved ones.
Ideas like photographs, children’s hand prints, handmade jar of cookies, handmade box of chocolates, candy trees, cupcakes in jars, homemade scrubs, decoupage cups and photo frames and personalised calendars can make great gifts!
5. BE REALISTIC
Be realistic and do not feel pressured. Our friends and family need to understand what we can and cannot afford and should not expect us to get ourselves into debt due to buying lavish gifts above our means. The most important thing about Christmas, whatever religion should be about spending time together not about the how expensive our gifts are. Let’s bring back the TRUE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS!