Around that time in my life, with my ex being made redundant and me belatedly realising that it was not normal to carry massive credit card debts from one year to the next, I started to pay it off bit by bit. In those early days, it felt like I was chipping away at a mountain with a spoon.
However, along came Christmas and beguiled by adverts and faced with peer pressure to buy more and more expensive presents and to spend spend spend in the sales, I found that I ended up undoing some of the progress that I had made in paying down my debts.
I began to dread Christmas and realised I had to develop a mindset change to resist peer and commercial pressure. I didn’t want to appear to be a skinflint or miserable so the only way I could do it was to succumb to the humbug bug.
There was one Christmas where I did not put up a single decoration or even a Christmas tree at home. I just put up the cards that I received from friends, families and colleagues but that was it. Sounds a bit sad but it wasn’t such a difficult thing to endure at the time. Having debt made me more sad than anything else!
And funnily enough, not having ‘ho ho ho’ rammed in my face while I was at home helped – whilst I did get into the spirit of festivities outside of home, eg I attended Christmas parties, went out with friends, exchanged presents etc. I just didn’t get into the spirit of mad shopping and spending.
I was cured! 🙂
Since that one Christmas, I’ve not had to be so spartan with my decorations since (although both tree and decorations are still pretty modest), but I now have a mindset that stops me from getting dragged into needlessly spending money during this time of year. Taking a leaf from M’s book, I’ve also been putting a bit of money aside each month into a ‘present fund’.
Things I won’t be doing this time of year:
- Borrow to buy presents (I used to put everything on credit card but this is madness)
- Go mad on Black Friday/Cyber Monday/some other ‘special’ shopping day (unless I happen to be looking for something specific on those days)
- Treat myself to something ‘expensive’ (I might treat myself to something not expensive however!)
- Buy another novelty Christmas jumper (one is enough!)
- Buy a new outfit for the office party (everyone’s usually so drunk, they’ll never notice or remember what I wore anyway)
Things I will be doing this time of year:
- Make a list of what presents I need to buy and stick to it (this works with my grocery shopping)
- Make use of cashback websites where possible (see below)
- Shop around for best prices
- Eat and drink a little more than usual (tis the season to be jolly!)
- Continue to work hard in the gym because of the above!
- Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Christmas markets without buying unwanted ‘stuff’ on impulse.
- Home brew a winter-warmer ale (might not be ready til January though)
- Donate to charity (I do donate throughout the year but always make a point of doing so at this time of year)
My ‘will’ list works out less expensive plus I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything!
I’ve been a member since late 2011, so the £1091 is what I’ve ‘earned’ in 4 years. About £60 of the £161 should be payable later this month, the rest is likely to be paid out early next year.
- Car insurance
- House insurance
- Travel insurance
- Breakdown cover
- Hotel bookings
- Mobile phone deals (when my contract is up)
- Recycling mobile phones
- Train and plane tickets
- Gambling websites (the signing up deals)
I also got cashback on dating websites in the past, although with some of the blokes I’ve met on there, I’ve felt like asking for a full refund, never mind just some cashback, haha! 😉
Funnily enough, one of my friends saves all her cashback for her Christmas shopping whereas I’ve been investing mine.
So, I’m planning to keep my spending over the next couple of months to a sensible level whilst still enjoying myself.
So maybe not truly ‘bah humbug’, just yet!? 🙂