Here’s the thing. We’re not all perfect savers. Actually, we’re for the most part the opposites and no other time of the year makes it more obvious than the last 3 months. Why? Holidays, friend. Every Christmas season significant number of our family members, neighbours and strangers we crossed (or not) paths with, load an average of £452 on a credit card to fund gifts, food and family time. And that was just 2017 – 2018 and 2019 were probably just as bad. 2020 might be less terrible financially because we’re not seeing as many people, or financially worse if you feel like compensating this frustrating year by some ‘really good’ gifts. Regardless of the group you fall into, there are some things which you can do between now and the holidays to avoid having to spend on credit.
Make some extra money
If you are in the fortunate position of having a job and childcare available (of you have kids), consider taking on a temporary job. This could be a weekend shift at a supermarket, a delivery or Uber gig or even hire yourself out to tidy people’s gardens out before the winter. If none of these are options, take a sweep around the house and sell some junk. FB marketplace, craigslist and eBay will be your friends for selling online. The idea here of course is not to clear your house for the things you need, but just to let go of stuff which you have no use for.
Alternatively, if you happen to have a specific talent for making things like resin coasters, macrame or pretty digital designs, look into selling your creations online too via etsy or notonthehighstreet amongst other platforms.
Cut back your current expenses
Sometimes you are able to make extra cash, which is always my preference, other ties you are not. And if you are not, take a second look at your ongoing expenses and see what you can trim back on. Often times this is a difficult exercise especially when your budget is already lean, but here are some of the things I would possibly do:
- suspend monthly subscriptions
- have a no-spend weeks/month
- cut discretionary spending
- if you are renting and have a good relationship with your landlord, call up and ask for a temporary cost reduction (a small one of £50 or £100 until the new year)
Lastly, and this one is a hard one and I do not recommend it unless you literally run out of other options, consider putting another financial goal on hold until you are done with Christmas. What I mean by this is for example, if you are fast-paying debt, divert some of the overpayment into covering the cost of holidays and return to fast-paying once you have all the money needed.
What if making more money and cutting back expenses is not possible?
The last option is the one which most people really don’t want to think about after having 2020 as it has been, and the option is scaling back on your holiday celebrations. This can include reducing the number and value of the gifts you give, foregoing travel (something many people will opt for and for once, this one is a sad but guilt free situation), and if you are able to see your loved ones, opting for a potluck instead of having to host and prepare the whole menu yourself.
In my personal experience reducing the value and number of gifts is the hardest one. One way to do this is offering gifts which are handmade but which don’t look tacky – consider your skills before investing into materials to create these. I find that decorative flower pots which you or your children can paint are better than ugly sweaters and handmade soap always wins over mason jars filled with cookie ingredients.
Another inexpensive alternative to gifts are edible gifts – offer chocolate boxes, fruit baskets, and if you really want to make something yourself, remember that candied orange peels in dark chocolate are better received than sugar cookies in most circles.
In my next article I’ll cover specific inexpensive and homemade gift ideas based on a selection of some which I have received and which I wish I had received. If you would like to see that gifts list, be sure to follow this blog.