As we head rapidly towards the end of 2016 the prospect of Christmas and New Year is daunting for many due to the cost of the celebrations. With Christmas being as much a cultural as a religious event for most people and New Year being a party time too, I thought I’d put together an article with hints and tips for budgeting at this time of year.
More lighthearted than my usual offering and those that know me well may raise an eyebrow as I am not exactly known for an overwhelming love of Christmas (mainly as it seems to go on so long) but this may be of interest and use to a few people.
They say there is nothing new under the sun – although that isn’t necessarily true in Dubai – but sometimes we just need a reminder of what works especially when it is easy to get carried away with all the advertising and the associated pressure to make things perfect.
1. For any expensive event it makes sense to set aside money. It doesn’t cost you any less but saving a little each month is easier than a big hit in one month.
2. Give yourself a spending limit. See what money you have and set a limit accordingly
3. Try not to get carried away. Advertising is heavy and expectations are high.
4. We all want children to have a wonderful time but Christmas is about so much more than just gifts. Tell children that Father Christmas/ Santa Claus has to provide gifts for millions of children so there is a limit to what can be given.
5. Christmas is one day – or supposed to be – so don’t ruin a few months for it by spending way more than you can afford
6. Try not to load up that credit card. Having to pay off a big bill in January and beyond will take the shine off 2017.
7. Buy some bits and pieces early and stash them in one place but don’t forget where you put them.
8. Reconsider who you buy gifts for. Do you need to spend a great deal on that cousin you never see and don’t really like? Maybe make a decision in the extended family to only buy for children and partners, maybe parents too, but with a limit for adults.
9. Make a list and check it twice. Shop with a list as impulse buying can be dangerous.
10. As an alternative to buying large presents for adults, if you are getting together over the festive season why not organise a Secret Santa? Fix a spending limit and make people be imaginative. Plenty of fun to be had too by doing this.
11.Instead of buying expensive gifts why not consider more personalised items? This takes a little more planning but doesn’t have to be expensive and the thought that goes in to a more personal gift is very much in keeping with the season.
12. Don’t overlook buying some items second-hand. Larger toys for children can often be found for sale in very good condition and at much less than new. Wrap it up and the children will neither know, or care.
13. On a similar topic, do you have things that you no longer need and can sell to cover the cost of seasonal spending?
14. Shop around. Prices can vary between retailers so you can save money by checking prices especially on big ticket items. If you plan ahead you can also save on some things by purchasing from overseas. This can work best if you have family visiting who can bring items as otherwise saving can be lost on the cost of shipping.
15. Shop around for food too. The price of a turkey will vary as will brunches if you plan to eat out on the day. Many publications will shortly list options and you can also find a list of Christmas lunch venues, with details and prices,on the Citispi app and website.
16. Having a meal delivered is not as expensive an option as it sounds once you factor in the cost of ingredients and portions are usually fairly generous. You can also check Citispi and other publications for info on some of these options.
17. Younger children are often as interested in the packaging than an expensive toy and just love having packages to open. Keep them happy with lots of cheaper small items and never wrap things together if they can be kept separate for maximum unwrapping pleasure.
18. If you can be relaxed about buying certain items it can be worth waiting until shortly before the big day to start buying. Many stores discount their Christmas items, decorations, cards and paper, 7-10 days before the 25th December so significant savings can be made.
19. If planning a party ask your guests to bring a dish of food or snacks. We all know how costly it can be to host an event so everyone will be happy to help out a little.
20. Above all remember that this is the season of goodwill and peace to all men, not the just the season of spending money.
Seasons greetings to you all.
To arrange a meeting to discuss any aspect of your personal financial planning, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Podcast of the linked radio show here: Dubai Today on Dubai Eye – Season spending 14.11.16