It won’t come as a surprise if your bank account is sweating at the thought of Christmas coming up in the next week. The run up to Christmas sees our spending habits change dramatically – not just on gifts, but on groceries, alcohol, clothing and going out. Christmas certainly is the time to spend money on your family and friends, coming together to make more memories each year and I love it as much as the next person.
There is nothing wrong with spending money and wanting nice things, especially during the festive period. However, you want to feel good about spending your money and not be left with a crippling financial situation at the beginning of the new year. But that doesn’t mean stop spending money during the holidays – but more spending it appropriately and mindfully.
Start by taking the time during the holidays to make your gifts mindful. This doesn’t mean to stop giving gifts – not at all! I love giving gifts as much as I love receiving them. However, I always take on the ‘less is more’ approach when buying gifts for friends and family. Find just one gift that you know they’ll love rather than multiple – this really embraces the meaning of gift giving and will make you feel good that you spent your money well.
A problem I think we all have big issue facing is buying a gift for someone you don’t know too well. Perhaps a cousin, step-brother or a colleague in the office. This year, cut out buying gifts for those who you do not know well enough. I think buying a gift that you’ve had to search hard, ask others advice or just settle for, isn’t really a gift at all. It’s more of a “I felt like I had to buy you something, because that’s what we do” type of gift. If you think it might be awkward, trust me, they’re probably in the same boat as you. Just agree to not exchange gifts and save yourself the time, effort and money.
Take your money further by thinking outside the box this Christmas. As you get older, it becomes a real struggle to think of a ‘Christmas wish list’. If you really needed something, you’ve probably already got it. I’m a strong believer in spending money on experiences and for the past few years, my parents and I have exchanged an experience gift rather than a physical gift. Suggestions for this include theatre tickets, a fancy meal voucher or a cooking class. Checkout websites like Groupon and Red Letter Days for ideas and discounts.
However, you might be buying for someone in the complete opposite situation. Whilst I was at university and had recently moved out of the family home for the first time, I was in desperate need for bare essentials. Going for a practical approach to gift giving is perfect for those who cannot afford essential things in their usual daily life. I was over the moon when I would receive a food hamper, with just about enough tins of chopped tomatoes and packets of pasta to get me through university for the next month or so. This relieved some stress off my tight student loan budget and I truly appreciated it more than a new shirt or dust collecting object.
After all the gift exchanging, overplayed Christmas songs and way too much turkey, come the Christmas sales (and yes, even I can’t say no to a sale). As I said before, there is nothing wrong with spending money, but I think it’s all too easy to get lost in the festive spirit and make unnecessary purchases. Prepare a list and set a budget to avoid impulsive buying. Or simply, just stay away from the sales – if you don’t need it, don’t buy it!
There you have it. A few ways you can have a mindful-spending Christmas this year. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below other ways you feel good spending your money during the festive holidays.