Recently, money saving God and premier promoter of smugness, Martin Lewis has been campaigning for us to ‘Save money, don’t buy Christmas presents.’ Now that sounds awfully alarmist and I’m sure many people will sneer at the statement; the truth is though, is that it’s simply a sensationalist, attention grabbing headline, and I think many people will miss the point as a result.
The fact that it sounds like he’s telling people what to do, means that a lot of people will miss the message. The main point that Martin ‘Super Smug Almighty’ Lewis is making here is that we shouldn’t let Christmas ruin our finances and put us into debt! It’s so easy to get caught up in the hype of Christmas, that before we know it, were sticking presents on the credit card, using our overdrafts and using up our January salary early – meaning the 6 weeks until the next payday are going to be very tough.
I love Christmas and I love buying presents for my family, so I’m often guilty of going overboard myself.
Prior to Christmas last year I was starting a new job after being out of work for a few months, while my wife was starting a new career, combine that with the fact that we had just got married and you’d be right in assuming that money was pretty tight. Unfortunately we made the mistake of prioritising Christmas over our personal finances – the exact thing that Martin Lewis is trying to deter people from doing this year happened. We stacked up a large sum of credit card debt that thankfully is being paid off now that our jobs are bringing us a steady income. Awesome right? Well it is, but it would have been a whole lot better had we realised that it wasn’t necessary at all and we could have done things on a smaller scale.
What annoys me a lot at Christmas is the colossal amount of tat on sale. Junk that no really wants. I mean it’s nice to receive these gift sets, but there’s a reason why they’re only available once a year. Don’t buy it. Your brother’s girlfriend doesn’t want another hot chocolate set with a giant mug and mini marshmallows. Its tat no one wants or needs.
Each year our list of people to buy for grows and we feel we have to buy for more and more people, and the fact is we don’t. It’s nice to buy people things, but if we’re buying them tat they don’t need it’s just an empty gesture and that’s the mind set we need to get out of; buying for the sake of it.
The fact is, if you are in debt already and can’t afford an expensive Christmas, you shouldn’t feel bad for not having an expensive Christmas. It really isn’t worth it.
You can’t be faulted for feeling like a cheapskate for scrimping around Christmas. It’s ingrained into us on a nearly constant basis and we’re encouraged to buy as much as possible. Christmas advertising starts in September for a reason and we’re made to feel like we accomplished something by getting our shopping started early, when in actuality we end up buying twice as much by the time Christmas Eve rolls round.
It’s admirable to start and finish Christmas shopping early. I’ve been saving since September and managed to sort it all out now. I’ve got a list of giftees, a budget for the present and a big ol’ tick next to their name. I’m trying to install some restraint for once and not buying any more unless there isn’t a tick next to the person’s name, even though I know I’ll get an idea for the most awesome present ever (side note: it’s Bacon Shaving Cream. For everyone).
It’s Christmas, c’mon, go hard or go home right? It’s only once a year.
Wrooooooongg! It’s only Christmas and you can make it just as special without taking out a new credit card or a payday loan. I love Christmas, you know this, there have been an annoying amount of Christmas posts recently about it, but let’s put things into perspective and be sensible about the whole thing. There’s no need to go luxury on the Christmas dinner, it’s unnecessary and we only do it because we feel like we have too. In fact Martin ‘Look How Smug I Am’ Lewis did a taste between high branded food goods and the regular standard ones, and the taste showed that the standard was tastier.
As usual it just takes a bit of forethought and a tight budget to keep the finances in control this festive season.