The seasonal celebrations are creeping up fast and can work out oh-so-expensive when you’re living on a tight budget, can’t they? But there is a way to survive Christmas without busting your budget, and here are some top tips to help you out…
It’s a sad truth that Christmas can make you feel a wee bit miserable when you’re skint – what with the sheer bombardment of ads everywhere you look, along with all the pressure you’re put under to enjoy the ‘perfect’ Christmas with perfect presents, perfect kids, perfect clothes in a perfect house and whatever else you can find that’s perfect too!
Last year, I finally took stock of the impending stress of the run-up to Christmas and worked out a plan of action:
- I sorted my budget early. I worked out how much I needed to put-by each month to cope with Christmas this year. And there’s no better feeling than knowing exactly what I can spend on my kids presents. (Notice that I said ‘kids’ presents. Yes, because they are the only presents I can actually afford. The money simply doesn’t stretch further than that – but that’s OK. At least I know my limits.)
- I made a note of all the events that crop up to cream further cash from you in the lead up to Christmas: the school play, work’s ‘do’, a visit to Santa, the school Christmas disco… It all adds up, and quite shockingly so. And then, I decided what will be missed and what will be included, together with a pact to stick to the plan so that I could keep my presents budget ringfenced against all odds.
- I decided to be honest and told relatives (very early on) that I can’t afford to buy presents, but instead, could I treat them to a ‘real food’ home-cooked meal and giant mince pie if they were OK with that.
And you know what? They didn’t mind one bit. Most people I know had felt obliged to spend more than they were comfortable with in the past and were relieved that somebody was finally being the first to say, “No. This is not how we do Christmas. Living up to the false aspirations from adverts is not what we’re about.”
And as for those perfect family, perfect kids, perfect house, perfect presents ads that make you feel so crappy and inadequate? I ignore them. I simply don’t watch them. I record majority of my TV. I play CD’s in my car for the whole month of December instead of the radio. And boy, does that take the pressure off!
So here are my top tips for a less skint Christmas…
- When you’re feeling a bit ‘brassic’, don’t be obliged to spend. Instead, take time out to bake gifts for your family and friends using the best ‘real food’ ingredients you can get your hands on:
- Forget shop-bought mince pies with their unpronounceable ingredients, this giant mince pie is so easy to make and a whole lot tastier!
- It’s not too late to make your own Christmas pud, and all you have to do is stir it all in and bung it in the slow cooker. Now, that’s my kind of recipe!
- This 1940’s chocolate spirals recipe can easily be adapted to Christmas by adding a little brandy and mixed spice to the chocolate spread. Sprinkle a little icing sugar on top, and you’ll be amazed at how professional they’ll look!
- And, once the festivities are over and you’re feeling a little ’rounder’ in the midriff region, start your New Year’s resolution early, and treat everyone to this delicious vitamin cake.
- If you find you’re feeling the pinch by January, you can find the latest 7-day family menus for under £50 per week right here on this blog.
But, my very top Christmas tip for you (without a ‘humbug’ in sight) is:
Decide what you want the most… Do you love money and the things money can buy, or do you love people? If you prefer the latter, then don’t feel obliged to spend what you can’t afford. It’s just one day out of 365. Give your loved ones your time and undivided attention instead. Surely that’s the best present anyone could ask for?
How to save more money whilst feeding your family on a budget…
- Weekly 7-day menus for your family that amount to no more than £50 per week.
- All about food – Where it comes from, what they put into it, how it gets from farm to fork, and why it should be organic, fair trade, local and seasonal.
- Eating healthily – My discoveries on what foods are best for us and what portions they should be served in, how best to cook and store foods, myth-busting on foods the media have convinced us are ‘healthy’, and any other health concerns when it comes to cooking and eating healthily.
- Simple recipes – together with a ‘cost per meal’, and cost of cooking.
- Making life easier – problem solving when it comes to fitting healthy food and extra cooking into a busy lifestyle.
- Honest reviews – book reviews, course reviews (from great courses I’ve attended like Love Food Hate Waste, CAPmoney and the Open University) and reviewing time-saving labour-saving gadgets that I’ve invested in from the money I’m saving on not buying processed foods.
- Shopping tips – tactics that help me beat the supermarkets at their own game so I can keep my hard-earned cash in my pocket, not theirs!
- Ebooks – whenever I have enough information on a particular subject, I’ll package it up into an ebook – great for you as you’ll have everything in one place at a super-cheap price of just £2, and great for me as it’ll help me to afford the hosting costs for this blog.
Or you can find out what the very latest posts are here to discover even more food for thought.