Saving while everything screams buy

Saving while everything screams buy

The year is drawing to a close, but the festivities are just getting started.

It is now November. Black Friday is on 24 November and Christmas is a month thereafter. And every day when I open my inbox, I am bombarded with emails from companies selling their goods. In the run-up to Christmas every company does a big selling push, and we the consumers get hit hard by the pressure to spend. It can be overwhelming.

But what if this year we stopped, took a deep breath, and committed to not overspending? What if we paused every time before we spent?

This year I plan to do things differently. I plan to work on keeping the festive magic alive without killing my bank balance. And I plan to stay out of debt.

I am slowly learning to say no to festive overspending. I am learning to hit delete without opening promo mails. I am learning to take a break once I have filled my online basket with goods, before I pay. Frequently when I return an hour or so later to pay, I find I no longer need the item.

It is common practice all around the globe for people to overspend at this time of year. But research shows that we appreciate experiences over material gifts. We appreciate time spent with loved ones, rather than things. So - this festive season I am going to try to give more experiences, more of my time, and fewer unwanted gifts.

Here are a few gift ideas that will cost time, but not much money. Because giving time is even more meaningful than spending money, these ideas should still show friends and relatives just how much you value and love them. That said, we may have to spend a little time managing expectations beforehand!

  • Give gift certificates
  • Offer to do a chore like work in the garden once a month for 6 months. This way you will get to spend time together and relieve your special person of a chore they usually have to do
  • Commit to a few sessions of a free activity together - like going for a walk, or playing chess
  • Commit to doing something special once a month for 12 months - make dinner, bring dessert, bake cakes
  • Give babysitting vouchers
  • Give pet-sitting vouchers
  • Find an old photograph of you together, or some special place you shared. Frame it and write about that time in your lives together
  • Make a mixed CD and watch the memories flood in as you enjoy listening to the music together

If we stop to think and apply a little imagination, we can spend less and still make Christmas magical and meaningful. In this way we can start the new year less stressed and with no unnecessary debt to pay off. Being mindful about our spending, and making even small changes to limit overspending, will all help us to stay out of debt.