Christmas is Coming, But Don’t Let Financial Worries Stress You Out

For some people, it’s never too early to start planning for Christmas. Others just let the holiday sneak up on them, and they find themselves financially (and perhaps emotionally) unprepared. If you’re in the latter group, making a few changes to your normal way of doing things can create a much more joyful holiday season for you and your family.

Giving yourself a stress-free Yuletide

Unfortunately, most of us probably fall into that latter group, and only begin thinking about Christmas shopping when we see the Black Friday commercials. As we drift off to sleep in our recliners, our thoughts dance between the joy we’ll feel when our loved ones open the very special gifts we’ve bought them and the far less joyful awareness of the balance in our current accounts. With just a bit of planning and discipline, however, it is possible to minimise or even eliminate the worry. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

It’s the thought that counts, not the gift – If someone loves you, they are going to love you no matter what you buy for them, or even if you buy nothing at all. That’s a sweet sentiment, but this is The Holidays we’re talking about, so let’s just move on to something more realistic. But before we go into that, remember one particularly effective ploy upon which parents the world over have depended for many years – have the kids open the presents they’ll hate first, like the underwear, the ugly sweaters, and the like. You’ll set the bar of their expectations so low that when they get to the good stuff, they will be positively ecstatic. A definite winner for Mum and Dad.

Put the money from unnecessary expenditures into holiday savings instead – Sure, you enjoy that designer latte every couple of days, but you’ll get even more pleasure from seeing the look of joy on your loved ones’ faces as they shred the wrapping paper on the gifts you bought them. If you’re really committed, you can even give up smoking and put the money you save toward gifts. Of course, you probably won’t be in much of a Ho-Ho mood through the holidays, and the people around you will hate you for a little while. But what with the price of cigarettes now, you can manage a pretty nice gift budget this way, and as everyone knows, the nicer the gift, the quicker the forgiveness for being a grouch.

Actually set and live within a budget – You’ve likely resolved to live on a budget numerous times, but discarded the idea each time. Now would be the perfect time to start, because you’re doing it for the people you love. You might even find that you’re better off financially than you’d previously thought once you see how much extra money you have every month, and you could end up staying on the budget indefinitely to buy yourself presents.

There are plenty of other ways to help reduce the worry factor that is so much a part of the Holiday season, some of which can be found on the above linked website. Most of them are as boring as they are effective, so we won’t dig too deeply here. Consider it our Holiday gift to you.

Don’t go into debt over toys

Christmas can be really hard for parents, especially those who face financial difficulties. Toy makers know this very well, and do their very best to instill parental guilt in plenty of time for it to sink in and make you go out and buy more than you can really afford. It will be a challenge, but you’ll need to keep your wits about you to avoid going overboard to assuage that guilt. You don’t have to deprive your kids of toys, but strike a balance. Look for stores that will help you with time payments or layaway. Toys R Us, among some others, is there to help, with their Take Time To Pay plan that lets you reserve the toys you want and pay them off between now and Christmas, even if your credit isn’t good. But hurry, because time is wasting, and the payments on a given amount will increase every week. And if you (or your child) change your mind, the order can be cancelled and your payments refunded, less a £10 cancellation fee.

Should you take out a personal loan for Christmas?

If you happen to be one of the many cash-strapped and credit-challenged people who nonetheless want to do something to make Christmas a little extra special, there are still ways to come up with the cash to do your Christmas shopping. While some finance gurus advise against going into debt just for Christmas, a no credit check payday loan could help fill in the gaps. Just be certain to borrow only as much as you can comfortably repay within the time allotted and use this page to compare rates, shopping as diligently for loan deals as you do for the toys on your kids’ list.

Christmas truly can be a time of joy without spending a lot of money you don’t really have on gifts that may very well be forgotten before the year is out. Certainly there’s nothing joyful about plunging yourself into debt that you’ll still be paying off well into next year. Going into debt for Christmas should be avoided if at all possible, but if you do take on debt be careful not to let it get out of hand. Your kids may think they can’t live without the season’s most coveted toys, but your prudent money management around Christmas time – and all year round – is actually one of the best gifts you could ever give them.

Paul graduated in 2001 with a degree in Finance. Since then he has gone on to work for several of the UK's most well-known financial institutions.

An avid blogger and a huge football fan, Paul is here to guide you through the ins and outs of personal finance and perhaps save you some money in the process!

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