Christmas is a magical time of year for many of us in the UK. Spending time with family and friends, watching movies, listening to cheesy festive music, enjoying delicious food and of course — there’s the gifts. However for all the joy it brings, it’s not without its stresses.
One of the biggest challenges of the Christmas period lies in attempting to make it to the new year without a financial hangover. But with all the expectations there are to make Christmas special and delight our loved ones, it’s much easier said than done.
That’s why this week we’re exploring what it means to be naughty or nice when it comes to managing money over the festive season.
It’s so tempting to be naughty when it comes to our finances at Christmas, isn’t it? For many ‘tis the season for spending, splurging and indulging. In all shapes and forms.
Shopping in particular is something we all tend to do a lot more of as we search for the perfect gifts for our friends and family. And as it gets closer and closer to Christmas, the tendency to panic buy sends all hopes of sticking to a budget out of the window.
And then there are the cards, and the wrapping, and the food shopping.
That’s before I even mention the increase in social activity as we put on our warmest coats and walk down to the local pub (lockdown permitting of course).
All that stuff can really drain our bank accounts and max out our credit cards. But what choice do we have?
Because it can be hard to find an alternative to the cost of doing Christmas, many of us merely embrace the costs and ignore our finances – for now at least – with the intention of sorting everything out in the new year.
Unless you’re superhuman (and maybe you are) it’s exceptionally difficult to save money over Christmas. But it can be possible to control our spending.
We can temper some of the festive spending frenzy by looking for cheap Christmas gifts, cutting down the number of recipients on our gift lists (sorry old acquaintances we no longer see), and sticking to a budget.
Most of us are probably familiar with the lyrics to Santa Claus is Coming to Town: ‘He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, he’s going to find out who’s naughty and nice’. But how many of us actually make a list?
Making a list can help us to tame our panic buying and keep our spending orderly. Deciding early on, who will we buy gifts for, and what is the budget for that gift, will help prevent those impulsive moments in store or online, when you just add stuff to your basket because you think “oh so and so will like that” or “that’s a good price” – even though you might have already got them something, or you weren’t planning on getting them anything!
Worse still, many Christmas shoppers, seduced by an end of aisle bargain or flash sale, end up buying a bunch of stuff to give as gifts before even working out who they’ll give it to. This can lead to a lot of waste at Christmas time either from ungiven gifts or from people receiving gifts they’ll never use. Sticking to a list can help us avoid this.
Most of us harbour the desire to be nice with our finances but are seduced into (at least a little) seasonal naughtiness as we indulge in everything Christmas.
This Jekyll Hyde complex is totally normal. Unfortunately, so too is the accompanying guilt.
We spend so much at Christmas, and we know our finances suffer, but we do it anyway and then we feel bad about it. So we ignore the problem as long as possible.
We are only human.
The solution? Stop judging yourself!
Money is a common source of shame for many people in the UK. Yet in reality, there is no right or wrong way to be with your finances, it’s about finding what works for you.
If you splurge at Christmas and plan on getting financially fit in the new year that’s ok — as long as you don’t go bankrupt.
Moral of the story: go easy on yourself and do what works for you
Whether that’s budgeting so you can have it all, or being naughty now, with the intent to get fit in the new year. We’re here to help you build financial fitness whenever you’re ready — be it now, or in the new year.