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.