This year I am finding the lead up to Christmas as stressful as hell, just like thousands of other people, especially parents at this time of year. While I have relied on credit in some form or other in recent years to make sure that we can get all of the presents we can for our 3 children, my partner and I have found ourselves in a position where this year we are just going to have to make do.
I never realised fully just quite how quickly finances can being to creak under the strain. Like many in the current economic state of the country we have only just been scraping by over the year. It doesn’t take much to upset the apple cart – in our case it was a combination of ongoing health issues in the family and the car breaking down.
It is now that I can share the irony experienced by people all over the country, in that most lenders don’t want to lend you money when you actually need it! I can’t say I blame them to some degree but it’s really frustrating when you still get banners when online banking for credit card offers etc. It’s no wonder so many people are tempted by payday loans or other higher cost forms of credit.
Because I have no overdraft or credit card available we have been looking at ways we can raise what we can to get the children some nice but not bank-breaking presents. I started at the obvious port of call – the boss, who of course couldn’t give me a pay rise, but it was worth a try! I already work quite long hours, so a second job isn’t really possible, and my partner looks after the children, so I have been taking a few steps to try to raise more money, maybe you can do similar if you are in the same boat.
Selling my stuff – I am a photographer and have a backup camera, so that is the first thing to be going for sale. I was gutted how much that has depreciated over a few years though. I have found a few other computer bits etc that I have also been selling to add to the Christmas fund. I have also managed to sell the odd photographic print via my photography blog. I am now going to set up a store, although that will be too late for this year.
Buy own brand – We have never been one to have Tesco finest, or other premium brand items but we also don’t normally eat “no frills” either. We have however cut down on shopping each week to avoid buying lots of extras and treats. We have also started to be a bit more frugal, buying cheaper products, especially for things like soap powder and softener. I never realised how much I could save each week by being deliberately tight with the budget. I might even have to continue after Christmas!
Raided the money jar – I know it’s one of the first places I should have looked, lots of us have a money bottle where we dump our lose change. I forgot ours was there until the other day as I haven’t had any money to put into it. On counting all of it including those dreaded 5 pence pieces I have just over £40. Not a huge amount but it definitely helps the fund a little.
Read other finance blogs – Reading other people’s finance blogs provides a lot of inspiration and ideas. It also reminds you that you are not the only one trying to save money.
Amazon prime – We are lucky enough to have an Amazon prime account, although this isn’t as great value now unless you want the video content as well. We were only really interested in the free book usage and free delivery. Each year we save a ton of money on delivery costs. We literally buy as much as we can from Amazon as it is often the cheapest place, especially once you take off the delivery charges. The delivery man dreads us each Christmas, its surprising just how many boxes can come by the time you include all of the small items. We will be hitting Amazon hard this year, finding as many bargains as possible. Because of the price rise I am not sure if we will use it next year; although it is still worth it over the year for the amount of parcels we get delivered. If you do want to make use of their streaming service over Christmas there is a free 30 day trial available, I will banner link to it below. In the interest of transparency it is an affiliate link.
Ultimately, while the kids won’t be having an extravagant Christmas I am hopeful that we should have enough to at least give them a fair few presents to open. I know that in January, when we haven’t increased our current debt levels it will all be worth it. I hope you are getting by too!
Image credit: Simon Hayhurst