It’s only a month out from Christmas, and there is probably some justification for hearing carols and seeing decorations around in the shops. The advertisers are out to get you, touting the latest must-have and pressuring you to buy this that and the other thing to buy, buy, buy for the kids, your wife/husband/partner, your parents, your siblings, Aunty Sally, the cat, old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all.
It can be very hard to resist the siren call of the advertisers. However, if you’re either considering taking out a loan for a new car or if you already have committed yourself to a car loan, you have to be really canny in order to resist the pressure and keep on top of things. January can be really hard for some people as the credit card bills come home to roost or when there’s not as much money in the bank account to cover the repayments for the car. Even if you are one of those lucky people who has got a car through a novated lease agreement, the whole commercialised Christmas thing can be a drain and a pain.
But you don’t have to turn into Scrooge and write the whole season off as a lot of humbug. You can enjoy the fun of Christmas and buying treats for people you care about without blowing the budget. Your role model from Charles Dickens’s short story should instead be the Cratchett family cheap and cheerful.
However, this sort of thing often has to be planned in advance, especially if you’re going to try to save a few pennies here and there. So as there’s a month to do, here are some ideas:
- Everybody who will be at your Christmas celebration on the day itself has to buy one present for one other person. Pull names out of a hat to work out who buys for whom, and set a maximum dollar limit on the value of the gifts. It’s amazing what you can pick up for $10 if you look.
- Buy gift cards for your nearest and dearest, then hit the shops during the New Year and Boxing Day sales when everything drops in price.
- Do a little DIY and make gifts for family members. Things that work well in this category include edibles and growables, plus a few cosmetic thingies. Edibles include chocolates, biscuits, cakes, jam and home brew wine if you’ve been really organised. Growables include any pot plants and veggies (and right now is a good time to get seedlings going ready for the day). Cosmetic things include bath salts, bath bombs and herbal vinegar toner. Plenty of how-tos are available online or in the local library. Even more organised people can try their hands at other handcrafts.
- Also make your own Christmas cards. A bit of coloured paper, a few magazines or other things you can cut pictures out from, the odd bit of glitter and away you go!
- Give vouchers or coupons for services that family members can redeem during the year. These can include babysitting, washing the car, mowing lawns, makeovers and (for appropriate people, of course!) something X-rated.
It can be tough to resist the pressure and to refuse to buy into the massive overspending culture that surrounds this season. It’s easy to be guilt-tripped into buying more than we can afford and blowing the budget, but it’s just not worth it. Keep your eyes fixed on what’s important and on real happiness and that can’t be bought. You can’t even take out a loan for it.