There’s many things to love about the holiday season. Fairy lights’ main character energy, how glitter becomes an acceptable addition to anything and everything, the general sense of cheer that seems to take over the air, work parties with open bars. But there’s also a lot of pressure around making it the most wonderful time of the year, which could feel that much harder this time round as the cozzie livs crisis rages on.
In true British fashion we’ve all adopted this silly little abbreviation, but the fact we’ve been forced to is actually very grim. Dealing with higher prices is hard enough – throw the holidays into the mix, and no one would blame you for having a menty b.
In all seriousness, many of us have been stressing about money a lot more than usual lately. Between present buying and everyone you know trying to squeeze in one final group dinner before the end of the year, it makes total sense for that stress to heighten around the holidays.
If you feel like you’re drowning a bit, there are things you can do to cope with money worries, as well as help minimise a post-holiday financial hangover.
Budget, budget, budget
Make a list of the people you want to buy presents for, the activities you definitely don’t want to miss, how much the train home will be, and have a look at your bank balance. What amount of this, realistically, can you dedicate to consumerist festive cheer? Try your hardest to stick to it, and if your bank app has this function maybe even put it in a separate pot to your current account so that you can better keep track of it.
Learn to say no
It’s hard deciding what nights out or dinners to miss out on when it seems like everyone is trying to get together. But your January self, who will be stretching out a paycheck for a week longer than usual, will seriously thank you. If you spend less on a couple of the occasions you’ve budgeted for, you may be able to squeeze another one in. It may feel like you’re missing out, but remember we’re doing this with the aim of preventing a financial hangover on top of the actual hangover you’re probably going to have for the whole of January. This is what gym bros meant by short term pain, long term gain.
Cut back on presents
According to Money Advice Trust, 14.4 million people are planning to cut back on the number of presents they buy. It’s important to stress that cutting back on presents is fine. We’ve been conditioned to believe the festive season is about gift giving, but as many holiday Hallmark movies will tell you, it’s actually about spending quality time with the people you love.
“People quite often are keen to impress friends and relatives with nice gifts, but I think that if the recipients knew that you were getting anxious or getting yourself into financial trouble buying them gifts, they would almost certainly want you to be less lavish,” says Matt Campbell, independent financial advisor at LGBTQ IFA.
Don’t head straight to the shops
Once you’ve made a condensed list of the people you want to spend your hard earned coin on, think outside the gift-giving box. Hit up charity shops and markets, or apps like Vinted and Depop – even Facebook Marketplace. Handmade gifts are also an option if you’re crafty and these can be far more meaningful and special than anything you could get off a shelf. Also, shop for last minute deals. If you’re not seeing someone you want to get a present for until after Christmas, you can probably get something discounted in the sales.
Avoid getting into debt
Data from the Money Advice Trust shows 24.3 million adults are planning to use credit to pay for Christmas, with 4.7 million people planning to use buy now, pay later products such as Klarna.
Try to avoid this if possible. “Be clear on what you can afford to spend and don’t spend money you don’t have,” says Matt. “Buy now, pay later still involves… needing to pay later. Don’t get yourself into debt to buy gifts that people don’t need.”
Don’t be afraid to speak up
Talking about money can be stressful, but I promise you it is so freeing. However nerve-racking it may feel letting someone know that your budget is a bit stretched this year, or just that you’re worried about money, those who care about you will understand. But it will also help you remove the expectations you have from yourself, alleviating any self-imposed pressure.