Is the C word bringing feelings of dread?
No not Covid, the other one. Christmas.
It is becoming increasing likely that Christmas will look a little different this year.
If, in previous years, you’ve felt that gift giving has got out of hand then perhaps this is the year to cut down. After all, many of us have seen our incomes change over the last few months.
I’ve agreed with my fellow Mum friends that we won't do Christmas gifts this year – usually we all do gifts for the kids, but since they are all October/November babies they don’t need another heap of presents just a few weeks later.
Try to convince the family that for adults you’ll do a Secret Santa. The kids still get spoiled, but instead of having to buy say 6 gifts of £20 a pop, you can just buy one for £40. Money saving all round and if everyone writes a list it will save you time spent in M&S wondering if the “whisky and socks” combo is a cop out.
If you still feel that you can’t cut down, then here are 5 budget friendly tips for you
1. Write a list of everyone you need to buy for and keep it on you. From now on, if you see something on offer you can get it and stash away – spreads the cost rather than one big shopping day in December. Even better, wrap it now too. Be a real friend to your future self so you aren’t wrapping frenetically on Christmas Eve.
2. Shop around. Never buy something the first place you see but check to see if it is cheaper elsewhere.
3. If buying online, don’t forget to check for cashback! Once you’ve found the cheapest price then head to Quidco or TopCashback to see if that store is also paying cashback. If you haven’t signed up yet, why not? Before you sign up post a Facebook status asking if any friends have referral codes – you’ll each get a bonus if you sign up with a code.
4. Check outlet stores for those that like specific brands – Superdry, Jack Wills and Office are amongst those with outlet stores online.
5. Between now and Christmas, the supermarkets are going to be throwing offers down your neck. Everything from the tubs of Celebrations (anyone else smashed thorough one of those already?) to bulk buy wine. Think about how many days, and people, you’ll be catering for and don’t allow yourself to go overboard on treats. Also don’t be tempted to get the posh stuff just “because it’s Christmas”. In most taste tests the so-called budget brands often come out better.
And to try to create more money between now and the big day, these ideas may help:
1. Have a pre-Christmas clear out. We’ve all got unopened toiletries that aren’t quite our tastes, or toys that the kids just weren’t into. And as one person’s tat is another person’s treasure then get listing it. eBay, Facebook marketplace, wherever suits you.
2. Check your benefit entitlements at entitledto.co.uk
3. Complete surveys online and get paid for it – look at PanelBase, Valued Opinions and Toluna
4. Sell photos online to be used as stock images
5. If you’ve got unwanted gift cards, you can sell them for cash on Card Yard or Zeek
6. Enter free competitions at Magic Freebies or Latest Free Stuff
7. Get paid to browse on Qmee and Inboxpounds
8. Test products for cash at Paid Product Testing
9. Make use of apps on your phone – Jobspotter, Roamler, Receipt Hog and Fronto all pay you to complete tasks.
10. Try mystery shopping with Mystery-Shopping or Marketforce
11. Advertise on your car with Carquids
12. Get paid to watch films with Swagbucks
Lastly – here is what NOT to do…
1. Do not be tempted to use those credit cards or buy now pay later schemes. They are just a trick to sucker you into debt. Future you will not thank you for it.
2. Don’t feel obliged to give expensive gifts. If people cannot understand that things are different this year, do you even WANT to give them a gift?
3. This is not the year to buy gift cards. The high street looks uncertain with many big names going into administration this year. Either give cash or look at the multi shop gift cards like Love2shop.
4. If you’ve got Tesco Clubcard vouchers, don’t spend them on food but check to see what you can exchange them for on Clubcard Boost
And finally, the biggie.
DO NOT OVERCOMPENSATE.
Yes, this year has been crappy beyond belief. But don’t be tempted to overspend or overextend yourself to try to make up for it.
Your kids just want time and connection with you, not the big gifts, especially after a stressful time.
Focus on traditions and memories – grab a bag of pic’n’mix and drive round to look at lights, snuggle under a blanket to watch Christmas films, make different flavour hot chocolate, build a gingerbread house, go looking for pinecones to decorate, on a clear night roast marshmallows while looking at the stars, make a 2020 memory jar (use the photos on your phone as prompts to remember what you did through the year), set up a family vision board of what you’d like to do in 2021.
Above all, be kinder to yourself this year. Step back and actually allow yourself to enjoy the festive period instead of rushing thought it. God knows, we’ve all earned a break this year.
Willow Tree Financial Services