Hi, and welcome to this latest entry, where I’ll be talking about Christmas and how to keep safe and within budget.
I won’t be giving you number-crunching ideas, or maybe I will a bit – I do love an Excel Spreadsheet!
What I want to focus on is on giving you some food-for-thought about the usual societal expectations and how to break them without feeling guilty, or break them and have a better time this holiday season!
If you’ve read some of my past posts, I do love to challenge society and the unrealistic and sometimes unachievable expectations they place on us.
I like to free myself and those around me from those impositions… or at least prompt some thoughts so people can make up their mind!
You can read these previous posts here:
Blog Series: Looking after yourself
What to do with the should/must/have-to’s
A Don’t Do List
This Christmas, don’t break the bank. Avoid yourself some heartache by trying out some of the following:
It’s tricky to get the balance right when we are bombarded with adverts to buy the latest phone or gadget.
There’s also adverts selling you yummy looking food and drinks.
What I want you to think about is:
Do I really need this and that?
Can I afford this or that?
Will they get upset if I don’t get this or that?
Can I live with their reactions?
Will I thank or resent myself for buying stuff that is neither necessary or a priority?
Do I want to treat myself and splurge with this one thing?
Think about the answers that came up for you as you read them.
If you get that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach, you have your answer.
You might also get an excited, nice feeling. There’s your alternative answer!
Go with your gut and your priorities.
- Keep track of your spending
One of the easiest ways to keep within budget is to keep track of your spending.
You don’t have to be fantastic at Excel to use it, or you can just tally your totals on a sheet of paper.
Whatever works for you, as long as you know how much you’ve got going out and how much you’ve got to last you until the end of January (we generally get paid at the end of the month if we are employed; if you are self-employed, consider the gap in earnings for the holiday period and keep that amount on the side or in your savings, just in case).
It would be great to hear what you do to keep track of your spending, leave your comments in this post or if you found it through social media, retweet or comment in that post. Or both!
- Come up with creative ways of giving gifts
In order to keep with the “don’t break the bank” theme, using your creativity to your advantage will work well for your budget and your bank account.
My husband and I love to travel and have meals out so we tend to save up our money for that.
They are great rewards for us after working hard for a while. It gives us a bit of a break from cooking or work life, and we can reconnect with each other without any distractions or responsibilities.
For Christmas we tend to get each other presents within a budget of £10, £15 or £20. We then pick a street in our town, or the shopping centre, and stick to that area to find the presents within one hour.
We meet after to exchange (no waste on wrapping paper!) and have lunch or dinner together.
As you can imagine, not many things cost these amounts these days, so it’s a great opportunity to get each other fun and quirky stuff that we wouldn’t usually get for ourselves.
I’ve got a Pirate Umbrella (I fit right in in Brighton – I’ve actually seen someone wearing a pirate outfit and there was no obvious reason for it. love it!), a Bauble Pillow, a Harmonica (no idea how to play it!) a book holder, and other bits that make me smile.
So, think about whether this is something you can do with your family members (maybe change the rules a bit if there’s many of you, or lower the maximum price…)
- Say no to societal, family and friends’ demands when you feel like saying no.
I am big on setting boundaries as you might have read in other posts or in my Self Care Book.
Saying no to people is hard enough outside of the Christmas holidays, but it seems to get harder during this time of the year.
We are bombarded with requests to attend parties and other social activities, all which cost money.
Now I am not saying don’t go to any of them. What I’m saying is: listen to your gut.
Your gut will tell you whether you’ll feel good about going or whether you’ll later regret going.
If you do go, consider your budget and see what you can afford without feeling embarrased or put on the spot if questioned.
You are the only one in charge of your finances, and therefore you decide what to do with them!
Same goes for your time.
Saying no when you feel like saying no will help you stay happy with yourself and your relationships with those that accept your “no” will be better.
Saying no keeps resentment and regret at bay.
- Do what feels right for you – Celebrate your way (or don’t celebrate at all)
Christmas is not necessarily a happy time for everyone.
We might have lost loved ones around this time, and it therefore makes it hard to celebrate.
If this is you, it might be an idea to process the loss in therapy or with someone you can talk openly with.
I find that when I work with grief in my sessions, clients usually benefit from finding a way to keep the memory of their loved one at the forefront rather than the pain of the loss.
They also learn to acknowledge when that pain is there, and befriend it. This helps them work through it and move forward without feeling guilty of doing so without their lost loved one.
Another think you could do is save on decorations!
Who are you competing with? Are you decorating because you enjoy it and enjoy seeing the faces of relatives and friends when they come to your house? Or are you decorating because it’s the done thing?
Think about it and decide whether you’re going all out, or keeping it low-key this Christmas. The choice is all yours!
I don’t decorate out of personal choice, but it doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate Christmas in my own way.
Watch out for my Christmas post on the 24th of December to get some more insight in what I believe Christmas is all about.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Do leave comments about what your savings ideas are at this time of year!