Each year we put ourselves under enormous pressure to buy more and more expensive presents and make Christmas unrealistically magical. And each year the list of presents and experiences grows and grows.
Take a quick read below before you put yourself through the next 3 weeks…it might just help ease the burden.
1. Make a list of the presents you need to buy for family and friends. Agree a price limit per present and stick to it. You might want to mention this to family as well, they may be suffering the same pressures as you.
2. Remember, children love your presence, not just your presents! Christmas Eve boxes, December 1st boxes, Christmas bedding, Elf on the Shelf, beauty advent calendars, the list goes on…is it really necessary? Most kids will be delighted with an afternoon on the sofa in front of their favourite Christmas film. You don’t need to spend £20 on a Santa Claus duvet to make them feel Christmassy.
3. If you prefer shopping on the internet, look out for good deals; before you click “checkout” do a quick Google search for “(retailer name) discount code” – it’s possible that you might find a code for a percentage discount or free delivery, saving you money.
4. Take time off from social media. It might be a great way to keep in touch, but how many of us are guilty of comparing ourselves to the picture-perfect Insta-mums and dads (whose lives are filled with freebies and sponsored posts) leaving us mere mortals filled with feelings of inadequacy? A break from this can do wonders for your mental health, not just at Christmas. Just because your Christmas Day isn’t laden with Louboutins and fifteen Jo Malone candles (#gifted 😉) doesn’t mean it’s any less special.
5. Avoid using credit where possible. Credit and store cards have very high interest rates and it’s easy to lose track of what you have spent on them until your statements come in January. It’s easy to get into debt but so much harder to get out of it.
6. Bye-bye drumsticks. Unless you want to be eating turkey curry for a week after Christmas day, if you’re a family of four with young children you really don’t need to buy an entire turkey when cooking for just yourselves. Consider getting a crown instead, or even a turkey joint.
7. Avoid pre-prepared food and pre-packaged vegetables. You will save a lot of money if you only buy loose, fresh vegetables and do all of the preparation at home. If you are worried about having enough time, most vegetables can be prepared the night before and left in water in the fridge.
8. All I want is your company! Agree with certain friends that you won't exchange gifts this year. Alternatively, have a "children only" rule, or set up a Secret Santa. Here you draw names out of a hat so that everyone has to buy only one gift (and then guess who it is from). If a maximum price is set in advance, this can be an effective way of keeping costs
9. Brown paper! Add some string and a candy cane to your wrapping and it looks like something straight out of a Pinterest photo.
10. Plan 365 days in advance - The second Christmas is over, all those pretty decorations and gift sets are going half-price. Snap them up and have everything ready to go for next year at a fraction of the cost!
11. Joint gifts. To cut the cost of buying for family and friends without feeling tight, consider buying a joint gift for a couple or a family, rather than individual presents. What about a festive hamper that everyone can enjoy?
12. Remember, it’s only 24 hours…
If you're struggling with your finances, remember we're here to help at Mortgage Solutions Belfast. Give us a call on 02890 642000, send us an email or a DM on our socials.