Christmas thoughts and an over active brain

Christmas thoughtsI woke up very early today.  There seem to be lots of Christmas thoughts whizzing around my head.  Sifting through them with a cup of tea,  I am surprised at the amount going on in my head.

So this is a bit of a random post. A round up of my over active brain with all my Christmas thoughts in black and white!

Over spending at Christmas and a lack of logic

I belong to a Facebook group run by Skint Dad Ricky Willis. As you would expect, the group often has people posting about their financial woes. It is generally a supportive group with folk requesting and giving advice based on their own experiences.

A lady had totted up all she had spent on Christmas presents and was astounded to find it was £600 plus. Some people offered wise words about how to cut back next year, but many admitted they had spent much, much more. There were admissions of spending £1500 on just one child, buying two holidays for a partner for Christmas, etc.

I would imagine that if you join a group like this, you are either struggling financially or take a keen interest in money. If you have saved all year and you can afford it, obviously you can buy whatever you like with no worry or negative consequences.  But if you spend that kind of dosh and didn’t save the £3000 or whatever you have spent on purchases, no wonder you are skint the rest of the year!

For me, this sums up our crazy approach to our finances generally. I prefer to live within my means and Christmas isn’t that big a deal.

Veg price wars

It’s hard not to notice the supermarket price wars on Christmas vegetables this year. I stocked up when I did my last shop before Christmas in Aldi last night. I bought parsnips, carrots, sprouts and broccoli for only 19p each, plus Maris Piper potatoes for just 28p.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Asda have all waded in with offers on a similar range of veg. Lidl are also selling them at 19p, Asda at 20p, Sainsbury’s at 25p and Tesco at 29p.

Obviously this is great for us as consumers, but I have feelings of discomfort too. Someone is paying for all these discounts. I hope it is the supermarkets but I suspect it is their suppliers. Christmas thoughts to ponder.

On the mend

My friend with her badly broken ankle finally had her operation on it yesterday. They are hoping to release her home today, which is great! We were worried we would have to plate up her Christmas dinner and drive up to the hospital at one point.

The plan is to cook the turkey and prep all the veg here, then to drive round and finish it all at her house. She will be on the sofa with her feet up and we will all be her willing servants.

She will be out of action for a good month, all for slipping on wet grass.

Christmas thoughts for those on their own

I heard yesterday on the Jeremy Vine radio show on BBC Radio 2 about a lovely sounding family who run the Dairy Shop café in Sidmouth. They are keeping the café open on Christmas day so that those spending Christmas alone have somewhere to go to have a coffee, a mince pie or just a chat.

It was inspired by a single mum friend of theirs who said that one Christmas the only person she had spoken to all day was in the local shop. She had been grateful for that single bit of contact.

It might also be a nice place to escape if family relationships get a bit fraught over Christmas! I thought it was a lovely idea.

One piece of money advice

On another Facebook group (I don’t spend that much time on there really!), run by Cass at Diary of a Frugal Family, she asked if you could offer one piece of monetary advice to someone, what would it be?

There were some very interesting and helpful answers, so I thought I would share.

This was the most common tip: to save and have an emergency fund.

To get your savings taken out of your account by standing order so you don’t have to think about it.

To pay into a pension fund as early as you can.

Not to get into debt or take out a credit card. If you want something save for it.

Don’t live beyond your means or try to keep up with the Jones’s.

Think before you spend and ask if you really need it.

To keep a spending diary to increase your awareness of where you waste money.

Put your coins in a jar – it all adds up.

Keep household accounts and log all that you spend.

Just because something is available at a discount it doesn’t mean that you need it.

Sell everything you never use.

Take out a funeral plan.

Over pay your mortgage when you can.

Watch every penny.

Mine was to stop buying stuff and consider a no spend month, as I plan to do in January! If you could give a single piece of advice around money, what would yours be?

A vegetarian Christmas dinner

Off to make my vegetarian Christmas dinner. I considered this nut roast en croute recipe, which I took to my sister’s last weekend. It was nice, but you didn’t really need the puff pastry. So, I have finally decided on an old favourite, cashew nut and mushroom roast from Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Kitchen. This is delicious and also nice cold with salad. This recipe doesn’t credit Sarah Brown but it is the one.

I hope my Christmas thoughts haven’t sent you to sleep. There is so much to do but we need to remember to enjoy it all too. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope you have a warm, safe and happy time.


7 thoughts on “Christmas thoughts and an over active brain

  1. I do several of those tips – keeping a monthly log of what I buy , having an emergency fund (for the annual expenses such as car/house insurance, MOT, Christmas etc, that can’t be paid by monthly DD or is cheaper to pay in full.
    I lump them all into one account and subdivide it in a spreadsheet so I can see at a glance how much each sub-account has in it.

    My tip is if you want the safely and security of having a credit card, especially for online spending – treat it like a debit card, and transfer the money into a savings account after each transaction! I shift the money out of my current account and into another subsection of the above account each week, so when the bill comes in I can just transfer it back to pay it IN FULL! 😀

    The Cashew and Mushroom roast sounds lovely. I host the entire extended family on Christmas Day so veggie is out of the question, but have been looking for something a special veggie dish for my Yule Dinner on the Solstice. 🙂

    I really sympathise with your poor friend. I tripped over the curb nearly 3 months ago and only broke my little finger, but now they’re talking about surgery to straighten it too – unless I’m happy to live with a ‘banana’ finger drooping uselessly at the end of my hand! At least it doesn’t immobilise me so I can get on with most things! I can’t imagine having to be out of action for so long!

  2. Hi there,

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog. You have some great ideas and you are so clearly a lovely person who enjoys life and doesn’t judge others.

    My own thoughts on family finances are a bit basic but they boil down to being mindful when you dip into your purse: really ask yourself whether you really want something and, if you do, why do you want it? So often, as with food, we just take what’s in front of us without giving a thought to whether it’s something we actually do want.

    I do worry that the country’s economy is based on consumer debt. We’ve been here before and we know how it ended…

    Anyway, have a lovely Christmas and thank you again for the brilliant blog.

  3. Hi, I also love your blog. Wishing you Happy Christmas.

    It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one wondering who loses out when the supermarkets have special offers. I read Joanna Blythman’s book “Shopped” and it’s made me extremely cynical about supermarkets! I’m wondering who is going to ultimately pay for Tesco’s newly announced no food waste policy! I’m not sure it’ll be Tesco!
    My biggest tip for money saving is menu planning. Saves loads of time too!

    Have a wonderful Christmas everyone…

  4. Happy Christmas to you and thanks for your blog. From what I have seen, people fail to learn how and when to use credit and what their credit actually costs them in interest on revolving balances. Many have no plan nor any budget for their debt or its re-payment and sometimes no discernment between a want or a need. A budget should be designed so people can live within their means, whatever those may be. Plan, track and allocate.

  5. hi Jane… belated Merry Christmas!! How lovely to cook the Christmas meal for your friend. Christmas is hard when one celebrates it (or doesn’t get to celebrate it) alone. I shop at cheaper fruit and vegetable barns and shops which are never on an expensive road, nor in malls. The produce is less perfect, you can buy just a few things, and they are way cheaper. Plus it means that I am supporting local business. About 25 years ago, a young produce buyer and auctioneer, persuaded the NZ growers to do minimal sprays on fruit and vegetables. I know this, because it was my son-in-law, who is passionate about being green. But now, the produce is enormous and perfect. And once again, tons of toxic sprays are being used. Why? The supermarkets demanded it.

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