So I am kicking this series off with a wonderful post on staying stress free this Christmas! To me Christmas should be filled to the brim with laughter, smiles, movies, songs and wonderful food, and of course amazing people, everything else just sort of pales in comparison. Presents and decorations are really not my thing, I favour the memories of walking around the Christmas markets and drinking some mulled wine or taking a long walk with my husband.
Usually, I am away for December, this year I would be in South Korea for a week followed by Japan for four weeks, but such is the current climate this has been cancelled and England shall be my home. I have still booked some time off and wanted to really enjoy some time with my husband, long walks in the middle of nowhere, a cheeky pub lunch or coming home to a slow cooked joint of meat.
Planning my Christmas in England and all the wonderful things I wanted to do has gotten me excited. In work I have been chatting with my colleagues and a theme emerged, a theme of stress. I have forgotten how stressed people get around this time of year, never being in the country you kind of forget about this, thankfully!
So, this week’s blogs is dedicated to a stress free December and Christmas, lets kick off with a major one…
Let’s face it this is an odd time, some people are on furlough, others are being made redundant, some are having their hours cut and some are still working away. Christmas can be incredibly expensive if you let it be, this expense and burden of finding money to buy turkeys, decorations and a mountain of presents can cause an overwhelming amount of stress, for one day a year this seems pointless! Here is my list of money tips and tricks this year to slash your spending! After all nobody remember how much you spent on them, they just remember the time you spent with them.
1. Set a Budget
Setting a budget is vital, workout how much you have to spend in total, this is for food, presents, decorations, outings, the lot. Once you have this total figure workout how much money you actually have to spend, comfortably, this is money you should have, not borrowing from someone, a bank, a credit card, store cards or savings (unless those are your Christmas savings).
Now you have 2 very important figures what you have to spend and what you would like to spend. If your money covers all this great, that being said you can still use some of the below in a bid to cut spending and have a little pot to spare for the next year. So if your budget is smaller than your predicted spend follow the below
– Really think about where you want to spend your money and what is important to you, is it important to have a big family dinner, or is it important to have a beautiful Christmas breakfast and watching your children open their presents, but your wants in a list of priorities your top priorities will then be covered by your budget, or at least the top one. Everything else just isn’t as important, so use most of your budget for that. Take some time over this list, play around with it.
– Assign your money. Now you have your budget and priorities list you should assign your moment to each segment. For instance, if your budget for the whole of December including Christmas is £500, your list is; 1) Christmas dinner 2) Presents for children and husband 3) Relaxing Christmas morning 4) Trip around the Christmas markets 5) Presents for family and friends 5) Work drinks out. Now you need to assign that budget. You could split it like: 1) £75 2) 250 (50 for each child and 50 for husband and 50 for you) 3) £25 – bacon and fizzy wine, you can plan some movies and a relax which won’t cost a thing. 4) £50 – this will allow for a few mulled wines and a little something to eat 5) £50 – you can hand make gifts for the family from chutneys to biscuits to bath salts and bombs, plus you’re putting a lot more thought and effort into this gift which is always more wonderful or nothing at all, you could suggest donations to a charity or agree to skip the presents this year and when you can have a little get together. 6) £50 some nice drinks at the works night out, you don’t have to drink a lot and if money is tight then choose your drinks carefully, you could have a soda in between drinks, and maybe skip the cocktails, ask for a lift from your husband or look to sharing a taxi/Uber.
However you want to spend your money and what your priority is is up to you, you are the master of your money, but setting a priority list and sticking to each of your budgets will help no end. Also stop yourself from just throwing extra money here and there, this soon adds up.
2. Do you really need new decorations?
It’s always lovely buying Christmas decorations, popping them up and looking at them dazzle and shine for a month, but if you already have perfectly good decorations do you really need to buy more? If you want some new decorations maybe set up a decorations fund and add a little bit throughout the year and next year you can go wild as you have set the money aside, Trust me your decorations won’t look horrific, or at least for another year!
3. Why go for a turkey?
I know they are traditional this time of year but why not try a different cheaper joint of meat? Or if turkey is a must go for a smaller cut like a crown, the plus to this is when cooking your less likely to dry the bird out getting each section to cook correctly.
4. It’s all about the trimmings.
Whilst a big bird, or 3 different joints of meats can look impressive we all know the glory goes to the stuffing, spuds and yorkies and obviously an amazing gravy, plus these options are miles cheaper than the meat, so get a smaller joint and pop the effort into the trimmings, carrot and suede mask, buttery cheese potato mash, crispy on the outside fluffy in the middle roasties, yorkie puds, gravy, roasted veg, pigs in blankets, stuffing and some homemade apple sauce. Put some effort into getting massive flavour into all your food and the meat won’t matter at all, plus if you buy all these elements in their natural form or home make some of the elements you will save quite a bit, making Yorkshire puddings is quite inexpensive, carrot and suede mash buying the bits in singular form can work out a lot cheaper.
5. Do you need a mountain of presents?
Instead of buying lots of presents which will be forgotten about in a few months’ time why not be more strategic with your spending, my husband and I often go sale shopping so we can get more bang for our buck. When you set a budget for how much you are going to spend on someone its makes you think what to get them and be a lot stricter about the smaller open up presents which can not only be a waste of money but can also add up in terms of cost.
6. Shopping around.
Don’t just go to one shop, look around and hunt out some bargains
7. Make your decorations.
This will be great fun for all the family! Get everyone involved and set up some Zoom decorations parties. Google and pin lovely things to make, you can have a great ball with the family and what’s more everyone is sharing the load of decorating, not just you!
Always remember…. It’s the thought that counts, if you cannot afford something you cannot afford something, its as simple as that, don’t stress and overstretch yourself for one day, you can make things so much more magical but simply putting your time and effort into something, this means far more than a present, a perfectly decorated room or a turkey the size of a small car. So save your money and instead give your effort, looking back these memories will be the fondest.
How do you save money at Christmas time? Or do you have some great tips on stretching a budget? Let me know! I would love to hear from you.
Well, have an amazing December!!!! See you in my next blog