According to a survey by Opinium, Brits are going to spend £821.25 this Christmas. This will include gifts, food and drink and decorations.
Call me a Grinch, call me Scrooge if you like, but this is a ridiculous amount to spend on one day.
On more than one occasion this year I have come across someone telling me that they are unable to pay their debts as they have Christmas presents to pay for.
I haven’t experienced it yet as I become a compete hermit over the Christmas period, but it won’t be long I’m sure, until we see queues up and down every aisle of our supermarkets with people shopping like survivalists ready to be cooped up in their homes for months on end until they’re told that it’s safe to come out.
I understand that people don’t want to step foot out of their homes over the Christmas period, what with entertaining and watching Mary Poppins, but I’d be surprised if your local shopping centre isn’t busy on Boxing Day with people to find a bargain.
Come on it’s only a day, even though advertisements for it feel like the momentum leading up to it starts in June.
So what is making people spend so much?
Love has a monetary value
This is probably a cynic’s view, but I really believe that some might be spending a small fortune trying to give their love monetary value. If I don’t spend £x then shows that I only love you so much.
There are other ways to show that you love someone that doesn’t involve spending a small fortune.
The fear that you haven’t spend enough
I’ve been in relationships where I’ve bought presents purely based on an assumption that the other party was going to spend a certain amount on me and as a result I didn’t want to feel that I’d been tight with my present buying.
This was often a misguided view as the gifts were just an off shoot of what Christmas was truly about.
Sense of obligation
Well its Christmas it’s just something that you have to do.
We recently had a drop in our household income and let people know that we might not being doing Christmas presents this year.
When my wife told my mother in law, she responded by saying that you have to get something because it’s Christmas. This isn’t a sentiment that I particularly share, but I guess this highlights the point that there are some that put an importance of giving presents at this time of year sometimes to the point that we forget what the season is about, whether you’re religious or not.
The love of giving
The love of giving and the feel good factor, with everything going on when we turn the news makes sense that for that one day we want to see the smiles on the faces of our loved ones.
How is Christmas going to be paid for?
Loans and Credit cards
A third of us will be looking to borrow money to buy Christmas presents, so if the average spend is going to be £821, you of course then have to factor in the interest that is going to be paid on top of this.
The UK has already amassed consumer credit debt worth £200bn, should we let a day, which Christmas is, really be the cause of increasing consumer debt?
Saving throughout the year
A colleague at work recently handed out a 365 savings challenge sheet and asked if I wanted one, I didn’t take one.
I didn’t accept one, not because I’m against saving for Christmas, I just find it difficult to get my head around the fact as to whether they offer any benefit for those trying to save for the festive season.
Whether it’s a 365 day savings challenge or a 52 week savings challenge, I’m all for people wanting to save money for Christmas but these in themselves set up an expectation how much we intend to spend at Christmas. This particular sheet was about saving £600+, which for me still seems quite a lot of money.
This might be an unpopular view and so be it, but there are a number of things that I don’t particularly like about these challenges, first is the disappointment that some might feel if they aren’t able to save a pre-specified amount on a certain day or week. Is this going to impact their future savings. Second, is the fact that these savings might be just put in a jar as and when, therefore earning no interest.
The better option would be to set yourself a budget at the start of the year and set loved ones expectations early by telling them your budget and you won’t be spending anymore than this. You can then set yourself up a standing order to be paid into a bank that has a beneficial interest rate at the monthly level it will take to get to your budget.
What’s going to happen to all those gifts?
When I was younger, I’ll openly admit to being a spoilt brat. If there was anything new that came out, I wanted it and I got it as well. The problem with this is that I don’t think that this has changed for many people and up and down the country there are going to be children and young adults alike expecting the latest toy or the newest piece of technology.
If you can afford it and it doesn’t break the bank all well and good but unless you have money to burn then you’re going to likely see it posted on posted for sale on eBay or Facebook a few months later or stuck in the corner of a room not to be played with again.
Enjoying Christmas without the spending headache
Spend more time with loved ones
This seems an obvious one, but for me spending time with loved ones, and having time off work, is what makes Christmas for me.
Turn off the television
No matter what you have already bought, on the day itself your living room is going to be inundated with adverts from those companies wanting to part you with your cash, everyone and his dog has a sale on. It’s not and some will be tempted to spend their Boxing Day at the shops.
Check your supermarket spend
Remember it’s only a day, but supermarkets would have have been planning for stock levels well in advance. Therefore it’s likely that they are going to have plenty of what you need and more of what you probably don’t.
If you are one of those that buy more than you need, think about what you are going to do with what you don’t use. My fellow UK Money Bloggers are currently taking part in a reverse advent calendar event. You might want to consider giving what your have left over to your local food bank.
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