Christmas Can Be Merry and Bright, Even if Your Wallet is Light
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and the high street merchants and online retailers couldn’t be happier. For people who are financially strapped, though, the coming Yule season isn’t necessarily such a cheering prospect. At this time of year more than any other, the pressure to spend on gifts and festivities is sometimes overwhelming. But you can have a joyful Christmas even if you’re short on cash.
What you can do to make the season brighter?
Meanwhile here you are, trying to make merry with a light wallet. A festive Christmas on a limited budget requires a combination of practicality and creativity to be sure. There are of course the obvious practical strategies such as cutting costs wherever feasible. You can save money on gas, for instance, simply by doing most of your shopping online. But if you just love the experience of shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, keep in mind that many retailers offer fuel promotions. Monitor the Web and your local media for the latest deals. There are many other ways to save as well, which include choosing and using credit cards wisely.
Also consider ways you can increase your income, whether by working more overtime, taking on an extra part-time job for the season or even renting a room to lodgers during the busy season. If the latter interests you, you can either take out an ad in a local paper or register with one of several web sites that will allow you to rent your room or rooms out for a single night or as long as you wish. These sites take a percentage of your accommodation fee but they will save you administrative hassles.
Check out my post on how to make money this holiday season >>
Avoid going into excessive debt
Personal finance experts often warn about the dangers of going into debt for Christmas. In fact, the Citizens Advice Bureau flatly states that Christmas is never worth going into debt. Even so, the Bureau acknowledges the reality that many folks do go into debt at this time of year, and it offers tips for making debt less burdensome. Knowing the basics about loans and being aware of the total amount you will have to repay will help you avoid trouble down the road.
Certainly there are times when holiday debt can’t be avoided. The key is to avoid saddling yourself with excessive debt for something that is not really a necessity and will be all but forgotten before Twelfth Night. Ask yourself if the debt you are considering taking on is really worth it: are you making an investment that will pay off in a more joyful experience for you and your family or friends?
In some cases taking out a small short-term loan really can help you create a happier Christmas for your loved ones. Just be sure you carefully research your options so you can get the best deal possible. If you have poor credit or low income you won’t have as many choices as more affluent consumers, but you do still have choices. Exercise them wisely.
The “reason for the season” and all that…
Finally, whether you’re religious or not, you can use the Christmas season to remind yourself of what really matters in life, and act accordingly. It is all too easy to forget that it really isn’t about buying the biggest and brightest presents. Abi Wilkinson, writing on November 6, 2015 for the International Business Times, uses the 2015 John Lewis Christmas advert to drive home the point that retailers are keen to manipulate our emotions and even our altruistic impulses in the service of inspiring us to spend more money with them. She writes, “The pressure to spend more than they can afford, with more expensive gifts being understood as a greater expression of love, leaves many families struggling to meet even basic living costs in January and beyond.”
Refusing to succumb to that pressure is one of the greatest Christmas gifts you can give yourself and your loved ones.
Have you set a Christmas budget yet this year? Do you plan on using cash-only?