Christmas is coming, and if the Victorian nursery rhyme is to be believed, the geese are getting fat. Lucky for them! While Christmas is often depicted as the time for convivial gatherings of family and friends as you sip wine and indulge in nibbles in front of a roaring fire, this charmingly romantic image is extremely dissonant with the realities of most families in post-crisis economies. In order to facilitate one day of gift giving, culinary indulgence and familial togetherness many families all over the world are undergoing some pretty radical belt tightening. Christmas should be a time for togetherness, family and loving gratitude, yet for many of us it’s a time of extreme anxiety and financial hardship. Nonetheless, the enjoyment of the season needn’t come at the expense of your financial well being. While we’re already well into December, there’s plenty of time to put measures in place to avoid a crippling hangover of debt come January. While we’ve already looked into ways in which families can cut down some costs over the festive season, here we’ll look at some ways in which you can save or raise cash to give your family a Christmas to remember without sending your credit score, household finances or mental health plummeting.
Taking on more work
Those in the freelance community often find themselves taking on more work over the holiday season. For many industries it’s a season of increased demand and vibrant economic activity so for those willing to put in a little extra effort there’s usually work to be found and money to be made. Whether it’s clocking in a few extra hours of overtime or sparing a few hours of your Saturday to take on some extra shift work, there are many opportunities to make a little extra over the coming weeks. The trouble is that the winter also has a funny habit of afflicting us with Seasonal Affective Disorder which can rob us of our impetus and leave us wanting to do little more than hibernate in the comfort of our own homes outside of normal working hours.The best way to combat this is by starting every day (however painful it may be to drag yourself out of bed) with a jog or a trip to the gym which will speed your metabolism and give you a jolt of endorphins which will give you the energy and joie de vivre to not only go above and beyond in the world of work, but do so with a smile on your face.
Earning a little extra on the side
If your time constraints and family commitments don’t allow for overtime or a second job, perhaps money making apps will help you to make a little extra pocket money here and there. While none of these apps will make you an overnight millionaire, they are great for accumulating small deposits of cash or credit that can build up over time and take some of the sting out of the seasonal spending. Moreover, a lot of apps will also give you store credit that will make Christmas shopping that little bit easier. Most revolve around completing surveys as you go about your usual shopping activities or enable you to sell old unwanted items quickly and easily. Perennial favourites include…
Snap by Groupon
By all means borrow, but borrow smart
Whatever efforts we may make to scrimp and save, it may be that it’s not practical or logistically possible to make sufficient savings to cover certain inevitabilities of Christmas spending. If this is the case, then borrowing may be your avenue of last recourse. You wouldn’t be alone. In fact last year 1 in 3 British households turned to credit card borrowing to fund their Christmas expenditures. If you must borrow, don’t beat yourself up about it but be sure to borrow smart. Credit card companies are usually tripping over each other around this time of year to lure in new customers with attractive products offering great interest free periods on new purchases and balance transfers. Be sure to pay them off within this period, though, or the interest rates may make your debt become unmanageable. If your credit history is less than stellar you may find this places restrictions on certain types of loans but you still have borrowing options without credit. Payday loans can be your friend in these circumstances if you need access to quick money to tide you over until you next get paid.
Cutting down non-Christmas costs
Although our thoughts usually turn to seasonal confections like presents, turkeys, stocking fillers and mince pies, these are by no means the only source of expense over the festive period. There are opportunities for saving outside of these festive treats. Indeed, now may be the perfect time to rethink your mobile phone tariff, your broadband provider and your utility providers. Indeed, you may be able to make significant savings by consolidating in these areas. Since many providers actually provide all of the above services they may be able to cut you a special deal if you entrust them with all of these services.
Make it, don’t fake it
It’s all too common for us to splurge on expensive gifts for friends and family that we can ill afford because we want to project an impression of wealth and good fortune. This is a shame, since any friend or relative worth spending your money on would much rather receive a gift chosen with love in mind than something expensive and flashy but ultimately soulless. If you’re creatively inclined, investing your time and effort into homemade gifts, crackers and cards is often far more meaningful than a store bought counterpart. There are many easy to make gifts that you can assemble alone or with your kids that will delight the recipient without sending your personal finances spiralling out of control.
Manage your kids’ expectations
It’s a lamentable truth that kids all assume that their parents are infinitely wealthy. They see products advertised on TV or evangelised about by their peers (the very best of salesmen) and consider it a personal affront if the family’s finances are not conducive to them getting it. In an age where 5 year olds covet iPads, it’s important to manage your children’s expectations over Christmas. If your children are young enough to believe in Father Christmas, tell them that he doesn’t like greedy children or that he has a lot of kids to buy for so they should plan their wish lists accordingly. Kids shouldn’t equate material possessions with happiness quite as fervently as they seem to so make sure that their Christmas day is full of fun and games, friends and family rather than focusing solely on presents.
Don’t make a meal out of your money
Aside from the inevitable spending on Christmas presents, the inevitable lavish dinner is another common cause of expense. Your Christmas dinner needn’t break the bank, nor should it necessarily be a nightmare for your waistline. Indeed many people all over the world are foregoing the turkey and chipolatas for a vegan Christmas dinner. Besides being a good deal healthier, plant based diets are better for the planet as they are more sustainable and, needless to say, don’t come at the cost of animal suffering. They tend to be a good deal cheaper too with most supermarkets offering a selection of delicious nut roast and soy or seitan based turkey substitutes to allow you a wholly satisfying Christmas dinner at a fraction of the cost.
Michael FooteHow To Get Money Smart Over Christmas