No money to spend at Christmas can seem overwhelming. You want to be able to do everything everyone else is supposedly doing, right? Everyone seems to be loudly talking about their elaborate plans. Plans that seem far out of reach for someone who for whatever reason, has little cash to spare in the Christmas season. Yep I’ve been there and to be honest, I am still in the position where I appreciate the value of the things I originally started to do when I refused to give way to pressures and once again spend on my credit cards.
Here’s some ideas that could help you. As always, feel free to add to these – I firmly believe we, as a community can fight debt together, and all the worries it brings.
- 0.1 I Forgave Myself for Wanting to Appear Like My Christmas Was Perfect.
- 0.2 I Made Choices Based on Our Budget for Our New-Look Christmas
- 0.3 Two Heads or More Are Better Than One
- 0.4 I Worked Out What We Absolutely Couldn’t Do Ahead of Christmas and Found Free Alternatives
- 0.5 We Left Ourselves Enough Breathing Space to Just Be
- 1 Pin Me For Later!
I Forgave Myself for Wanting to Appear Like My Christmas Was Perfect.
One of the things I realised I was doing was comparing myself to everyone around me. Social media and magazines were promoting perfection at Christmas, whether it be the glorious photographs from my friends list on Facebook, or glossy pictures of families celebrating in magazines. So I stopped buying the mazagines – it seemed every time I read one, it made me feel worse. How could I possibly afford all the things they were promoting as Christmas essentials?
Facebook is a great thing, but in terms of spending money, I realised I was again spending unnecessary money on non essentials. I limited my use, and within a few days I started to feel more positive. Within a week, I realised also how much time it had freed up. Needless to say Mr Budget was happier too.
The conversation I had with him was monumental also. He turned to me and said. Why don’t you just forgive yourself for wanting to make everything so perfect? You are beating yourself up without any reason. Be kind. I don’t like to admit this, but he was right. In my attempt to keep my family happy – provide them with expensive presents, and try to see everyone for a meal or whatever they had booked, I had forgotten I had a choice in everything. I could choose to budget and not reproach myself for it. After all I was being responsible and accountable for my money situation then also.
I Made Choices Based on Our Budget for Our New-Look Christmas
Mr Budget and I sat down and figured out how much I could actually afford to spend using a budget planner. I found that physically writing it down, was like I’d made a promise to myself to succeed in not going into more debt. If felt like a contract to look after myself better. It turned out we had hardly anything to spend (£150) but this was still a workable figure, because we had made a decision to control our Christmas outcome.
Two Heads or More Are Better Than One
Within a couple of hours, we had come up solutions for everything. It was clear that we had to be harsh to achieve this total budget. Because both of us were involved in this process, we bounced off each other different ideas, and I felt like I wasn’t trying to handle it all on my own.
I Worked Out What We Absolutely Couldn’t Do Ahead of Christmas and Found Free Alternatives
The hard fact was that neither of us could afford to go out to scheduled events with friends. Our solution was to get in touch with friends, explain honestly what we were looking to do and fill our pre- Christmas and Christmas diary with meet ups that were free or involved only buying a coffee for example. Our organisation meant that we could explain to close friends and family properly and not feel any Christmas guilt. After all we had made the effort to spend time with the people who we care about most in the world. The great thing was that non of who turned out to be real friends didn’t care what we did, they appreciated the time. They also got involved, suggesting good free ideas of their own. Examples include:
- Walks in the park or countryside and back home for milky coffee or hot chocolate.
- DVD/film night – get everyone to bring one item of food or drink
- Take the kids to a outdoor play area
- Crafting session with the kids
- Going to your local seaside town and having a stroll along the beach with the family and the dog.
- Take an evening trip out to the local mall/shopping centre and just mooch around. You don’t have to buy anything, but purely enjoy the bustle of the holidays.
- Visit Santa – a lot of places offer this free!
- Ice skating – a lot of cities or large towns set up a rink and let you skate for a minimal amount.
See my post on additional cheap Christmas ideas here.
We Left Ourselves Enough Breathing Space to Just Be
We were looking forward to the holidays so much, that we realised we had not given ourselves enough time to relax. The beauty of relaxation is that it’s free, or very very cheap. We built this i to our holiday and actually felt more refreshed when we went back to work again. Our days have consisted of long baths, lie ins, films in bed with many cups of tea and biscuits. The list goes on. We felt so much better also because we were in effect, managing the payment of our debt, without diving deeper into debt each year.
Ideas for relaxation days:
- Once in the holidays, we ordered a takeaway in and watched films all night. We had previously bought a wine box from Aldi and this lasted us the majority of the holidays.
- The family dog provided hours of free entertainment. They always need walking right? Part of our daily ‘free’ holiday involved taking him to different places that we knew he would love. We underestimated what simple pleasure just watching him splash around in a shallow river or stream.
- Another day we didn’t get out of our pyjamas all day and enjoyed our favourite broadsheet newspaper together. It was delicious thinking that we didn’t need to be anywhere at any point in time. We realised we had lost the urge to rush around; this on reflection was our key to great mental health at Christmas. We had truly managed to relax.
For further ideas, the Mirror came up with some great ideas last year for families, which are still very much applicable also.
Pin Me For Later!
My Real Friends Really Wanted Us to Succeed
This had to be the biggest lesson learnt – it clarified who our friends really were. I don’t regret this whatsoever though. Our real friends have experienced life’s ups and downs with us and been excited to try our new budget thinking. They didn’t care that we couldn’t buy much – they just wanted our time. As a result, we feel so much closer to our real friends now, because they really do understand us.
So my message is, don’t be afraid to tell them how you feel and share what you need to do – you will feel better that you have shared your situation with them. You will feel like you are on the road to control of your money situation, financial stability, savings and security. Every step towards this goal is important, no matter how small. It all counts…Share below your thoughts with us.