If you’re anything like me, Christmas always puts pressure on your finances. But there are a few things you can do about it.
I hope this helps take the stress out for you and makes for a happier holiday, and an easier start to the New Year.
1. ‘Think Yourself Thrifty’
Like with ‘Think Yourself Thin’, saving money starts by getting yourself into the right frame of mind. Don’t think about ‘giving up’ or ‘cutting back’ as you’ll feel like you’re missing out and that doesn’t feel like Christmas. Focus instead on this: Fast forward to late January. Your credit card bill lands on the doormat. You open it gingerly, expecting the usual whopper. But no … it’s clear. You didn’t even use it. Fantastic. Close your eyes now and take one minute to really picture that scene, to feel the freedom. Now every time you think about buying something in the run up to Christmas, replace the fear of missing out with this image of you being happily free of debt in a few weeks time.
2. Turn Down The Heat
Energy bills are going up and you might not know that if you’re away from home over Christmas, it is FAR CHEAPER to turn the heating off, that to just turn it down. When you get back it will be chilly, yes, but it will warm up quickly. If you can control each room then heat up one room at a time – the room you’re in at that time – not the whole house in one go. The reason you save money doing this is that heat loss from your home is directly related to the difference in temperature between inside and out. So a warm empty house is losing far more heat than a cold one. Other tips for saving on heating: put an extra blanket on your bed, wear slippers and a warm jumper around the house (I know, I know…) and my favourite (are you tough enough?): finish your hot shower with a freezing cold 30 seconds – you’ll feel warm for hours after that (and a bit like Bear Grylls).
3. Buy Less Food, and Buy it Cheaper
Yep, we waste on average 28% of our bought food at the best of times, at Christmas we tend to overbuy even more. Go to Lidl for cheap chocolate, stollen, biscuits. Buy lots of seasonal veggies – stuff the kids with carrot sticks before dinner. As a rule of thumb buy one third less than you think you’ll need. Put one third less on everyone’s plates. Talk to your family beforehand about their diets and agree to help each other rather than all ending up fat and miserable by January. Peckish? Drink a pint of water. To avoid the red mist at the supermarket, take out your budget amount IN CASH for the whole week and spend only the cash. If you mess up, force yourself to trudge to the cashpoint, don’t pay with plastic. Cash is a psychological barrier.
4. Pool The Presents
This year we’ve decided our kids don’t need more than 3 presents each, total. More than that and they just stop caring. We can’t stop their Grandmas getting them one, or Auntie Jean, so that’s their lot. We aren’t buying presents for any of the adults. We all live in tiny flats with no space for clutter. If that’s too much to bear, make something. Or offer a shoulder massage. Make them a mix CD of party music. Or look after your nieces for a morning while your sister gets a lie-in. It’s the time you put in thinking about that person that counts, not giving them some generic last-minute purchase. Oh and wrapping paper can cost a fortune … instead buy ONE big roll of brown paper and get the kids to stamp, draw, stick and glitter Christmassy pictures onto it. One roll of red ribbon to decorate, if you must. Looks really cool under the tree.
5. Sing The Twelve Days Of Christmas.
Start the season off by taking five minutes to sit down, close your eyes and have a quiet moment. Think back on the year. Think of one great thing that happened in each month – one thing you’re thankful about or pleased to have achieved. Then think of twelve things you’re grateful to already have this Christmas – your health, your family or friends, the roof over your head, the water in your tap. I absolutely guarantee you that this will free you from the urge to consume, to overspend, to overcompensate. You’ll remember what’s really important to you. And that most of those things are free.
Free your mind of the need to spend money and you’ll find your smile … this Christmas, and in January when that superslim credit card bill comes through.