On cash at Christmas

**’On cash at Christmas’ first appeared in Canton and Pontcanna Matters**

I don’t know about you but this time of year is when I start to panic a bit (ok, a lot) about how our finances will cope over the festive season. It’s particularly hard in these middle years of their childhood – too old to be fobbed off with large cardboard boxes containing not very much at all, too young to be sent out to earn a living to pay for their keep. (Note to self – eldest is 8 so can’t be too far away. Get in touch with the jobcentre to get him pre-registered).

So here’s a few tips to help you save money for the season of expensiveness:

  1. Save a little bit every month, from January. I’m actually cringing a bit as I write this because I never, ever manage to do it. I do start, but then there’s a holiday, or a birthday, or some other unforeseen event. But I swear 2014 will be the year!
  2. Start picking up stocking fillers as soon as the kids go back to school in September. It’s amazing how much all the little bits add up if you are getting them in one go, but a couple of items a week for a three months feels much less painful on the pocket. (There are somethings you’re best not to get in September. For instance satsumas. They go green. And chocolates. They just, er, go.)
  3. Sneak non-presents onto the present quota. Stuff like pencil cases which they need anyway, or pyjamas and slippers. The younger they are, the more of this devious behaviour you can get away with!
  4. Gumtree and eBay are your friends. Last year my daughter really wanted a pink desk (don’t judge me, I don’t do pink myself, but I seem to have spawned a girly girl.) All we could find in the shops was plastic, tacky and dressing table-like. But Gum Tree came to our rescue with a really good quality little desk, for next to nothing.
  5. Reconditioned electronic goods are much cheaper, but as far as the kids are concerned are brand new. My older kids are in iPod/DS territory this year – which is manageable if they’re reconditioned but crippling otherwise. It also makes the inevitable losing/breaking/spilling squash over them slightly more bearable when it happens – and you know it will…
  6. Food…it is so easy to get sucked into buying all sorts of delicious goodies on your way round the supermarket. And there’s nothing wrong with that – if you don’t end up throwing them away! Sure, it’s lovely to have eight different types of cheese in the house, but if your kids only eat common or garden cheddar, there’s a reasonable chance you wont get through it all. Plan your menus, work out your list, and stick to it!
  7. Food again…We are really lucky in Canton and Pontcanna with a wide range if indie shops. Buy your Christmas veggies from a greengrocer, and get your turkey from a butcher. Not only will you be supporting independent traders in our community, but you’ll save a shedload.
  8. if you are really strapped, check out Cardiff and Vale Credit Union’s current loan deal – borrow £500 for Christmas, make 12 monthly payments of £56, total repayable £550.38 AND you will have £120 in savings for next Christmas. More details at www.cardiffcu.com.

So there you go, the LearnerMother guide to surviving Christmas. You’re welcome!


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