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It is here! We are smack bang in the middle of Christmas mayhem combined with thoughts of what we will achieve next year that we still somehow didn’t quite pull of this Year!

This time of year is for many a huge time of panic and worry, with feelings of lack and inadequacy at every turn. As a single mum for years, I have no idea how my nerves took having to find all that extra money, I always imagined it would be different if you had a partner… but actually it isn’t so it is the same for all of us.

The reason it is a strain for the majority is whatever it is your household income is you will be living beyond your means. Shops, companies, everyone you meet wants to ‘help you out’ give you some money so you can be like everyone else. So many of us don’t own anything but live off credit so we are the same as what we perceive the norm to be. I wonder how many sane people think it is normal to continue spend over budget just for approval and acceptance from family, friends and society. I know I have fallen prey to this wicked trap more times than  I should.

So what can we do about it to lighten both the financial and emotional load of this cruscendo of Christmas cash outlay?

  • Don’t lie, if you can’t afford presents you can’t afford presents. If you can only afford one, you can only afford one. No one that cares for you is going to tell you that you are a failure and unreasonable at a time of year that has nothing to do anymore with its original pagan origins, or the christian story, but instead the story of giving in excess  a pile of stuff hardly anyone wants or needs from a fictional character and paying for it for the next 5 years!

At this time of year, get ready to move forward to the next, if you are struggling or you have a project or dream you need to save for take action now.

  • Ring up all your suppliers of household utilities to check you are getting the best deal, go to Martin Lewis compare site, he has done all the leg work for you
  • Cancel any random or non-essential subscriptions you may have, don’t take money wasting habits with you in to the new year. Take action now, to create change for the year ahead.
  • Do a family Secret Santa. Some of us have huge families, why not do a secret Santa in the family, everyone gets at least one present but only has to buy one present.
  • Make homemade gifts, they are personal, cost effective and eco friendly. See the next blog or sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss it. You can bulk make really cute gifts that will be kind to the environment and your bank fund.
  • Buy brown parcel wrapping paper and decorate it yourself, cheaper, more personal and better for the environment.

For you parents out there of which I am also a parent of 5 soon to be 6, I can hear you! Why should my kids ‘suffer’ why should they not get what everyone else gets. I have wept over the years of worrying about this and someone very close to me told me as a child they didn’t get presents as the money was not there. It happens, should you feel bad? NO WAY. The whole, spend loads of money on your kids from a fictional character is perhaps the biggest lunacy we all do, and it is a whopper of a lie no matter how much joy they do get from it. This is a crazy thing we do one time a year when we give so much to them anyway. So for you guys here are some tips that may help this year or the years to come

1, Save money every week in an account separate from your other funds. Even £10 a week will lighten the load at this time of year.  It can be there for xmas or you may find you need it for an emergency and it is there.

2, Think what do they need? Don’t buy for the sake of buying, it is hard to value anything when you have so much of stuff you don;t need

3, Print out personalized vouchers for ‘A day out togethe’r, a ‘sleepover for their friends’ or a ‘shopping spree if you can afford it in the January sales’, because lets face it we all get mugged off in December when a couple of days later the same toy or play station game is now 50% cheaper. January it  may be more within reach, it might not and that is ok too, Spend time with your children, create lasting memories of happy experiences, that will always hold more value and benefits than spending money, especially money we don’t have.

4, Experience day’s – These are great!  Groupon and sites like this do really good deals, it is an experience which is always more memorable than a plastic toy, or the next best things that gathers dust for the rest of the year.

5, Go to charity shops! One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. If you live near or in an affluent area you can get amazing things, which saves you money and contributes to a good cause.

6, Accept help! My children are very lucky to have always had grandparents that are crazy about them. When  a relative asks what they can get, ask them what budget they are looking at and see if they can help with any of the things that may be out of your budget or price range. Better that a real person that loves them get’s the credit for a wonderful gift than a fictional character that is making you go in to debt.

7, Recycle gifts – OOh it’s a naught one, but we all get gifts as do our children that never get used or are not to our taste… again one mans trash is another mans treasure, wrap it up and give it back… just not to the person who gave it to you.

8, Give the gift of giving back. I have a very dear friend who I used to work for, her and her Mum and any other people who find themselves at a loose end at Christmas go to be a volunteer, feeding homeless, helping elderly etc. They do this because they chose to.

Can you do this? Can you do something like this with your children? We are very privileged in the UK we have a lot, but there are people who have no -one, no-where and nothing to give in this rich country where inequality is never so in our face as this time of year.

Can you give back somewhere  and be mindful of  those around you to appreciate all we have all year round as we have so much to be thankful for, our poverty is luxury to half the world and appreciating and being thankful for all we are and all we have is the true spirit of Christmas.

Share any tips you have for saving your sanity and your money at christmas while still embracing the joy factor.

I love anytime of year that I get to enjoy the company of those that I love, and sure if we can give eachother a nice suprise gift that isn’t gonna cause me to have a mental breakdown later in the year then I am all for it!

Keep your eyes out for the upcoming posts on How do Enjoy Christmas festivites without compromising your mental or financial health.

In Good Health

Rebecca McQueen