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Are you cutting back this Christmas?

Man making insurance claim at Christmas

Christmas is often a time of excess, but even before people’s thoughts turn to trimming the waistline it appears many of us are cutting costs and planning festive fun on a tighter budget.

New Which? research has found that two thirds of us are planning to cut back on Christmas spending this year, and my family is among them.

In the past my family has been guilty of buying each other some pricey presents, but those were during times when we had a lot more spare cash to splash.

How people are cutting Christmas costs

More than half of the people in our survey said Christmas is financially tougher this year than last. That’s something which resonates with my family, so we’ve set a modest limit for presents to try and control costs. Around one in five people are only going to buy presents for children, not adults.

However, the way most people are going to cut back is by opting for cheaper Christmas food (25%). To save some money we’ve discussed which naughty and nice nibbles we want (Malteasers) and which ones can stay in the supermarket’s sack (those fancy crackers for a start).

Others are spending less on decorations (23%) and less on entertainment (22%), like going to pantomimes. One in 10 people (11%) are even cutting back on the electricity they use for Christmas lights.

The true meaning of Christmas

The year Santa/society deemed I was too old for Lego, the importance of presents rapidly diminished and I now much prefer the more altruistic aspects of Christmas.

From drinks with my childhood friends on Christmas Eve to the mini family festival that runs through to the end of Boxing Day; they are always delightful days full of feasting, silly games, jigsaws and losing copious card games at the hand of my wily 91-year-old gran.

And getting to spend such quality time with close family and friends always provide the most fantastically fun and memorable moments, don’t they?

So with the majority of Brits (93%) saying people are under pressure to spend too much at Christmas, are you cutting back? If so, how?


I’d love to be cutting back, but everyone else in the family wants to give presents.:( So I have to come up with a list of things I want. They’ve never understood that if I want something I’d already have bought it for myself, so I’m left with stuff I don’t really want, just to keep them happy. Sigh

As my income is now just 10 percent of what it was BEFORE the Tories got in – I have no choice but to cut back and hope I don’t die of frostbite or starvation in the meantime.

You have mentioned that you own a nine room house in London, so downsizing or equity release seem possible solutions.

Look – I bought my house Long Ago with great hardship – It was ideal for me – very carefully chosen to suit me exactly – so I WON’T DOWNSIZE to suit you or the government – I paid the mortgage with hardship and going without holidays – Had a pension that Before this appalling “government – gave 5% which was exactly “guaranteed” to pay for my expenses until I die but the “government” decided to reduce it to 0.25% – So I will not release equity as I want to leave a heritage to my children ASo neither are possible solutions. I’d sooner freeze. Maybe fine for TORIES. I’m not

Good for you!!!!say it as it is!!!!

The few Christmas decorations are returned to the loft every year. We’ve always saved the best of the Christmas wrapping paper. Father Christmas has always reused wrapping paper so he’d rather that people didn’t write on it and cause confusion. He prefers string and a colourful tag which are easily made from small pieces of wrapping – he especially likes those ones where little Santas have been cut out of the paper covered in Santas.

This year we are using coloured jute string (green and red) and this looks good with newspaper (especially wrapped on the cross) so we’ll have to visit a newspaper reading neighbour to find some of that. Christmas cards are going up pegged onto green jute string. So often wrapping paper is torn off just minutes after being put on which is a terrible waste – and the plastic stuff isn’t recyclable. We are making a big effort TO WRITE & SEND Christmas cards to people that we don’t see and don’t speak to regularly as it is important to stay in touch as the numbers of your friends decrease. Chatting to friends is a great way to put your own problems into perspective and you’ll often find that they are or they know someone who is facing the same challenges as you.

We’ll attempt an amount of round robin again with personal addition for each recipient. Two fingers to those stuffy journalists pontificating and moaning about them. I bet they get someone else to write their Christmas cards. Perhaps they feel threatened by the number of other amusing writers there are nowadays. You don’t need to have a job working for an established paper or be rich to write any longer. There are lots of people that we get cards from who we would like to know more about than the fact that they are still alive. Experience tells us that we are unlikely to be alone in that. If you don’t like it – fine. You can use it for whatever you like. For a start you can: Shred it and line your food waste box; compost it in your composter or wormery; use it to light a warming fire in the grate; make a paper plane out of it; put it in your recycling box. It is your lack of imagination and problem if you just send it to landfill and increase yours and your fellow residents’ Council’s Landfill Tax bill and reduce the amount that your Council can spend on their needy residents.

We’re making a bit of space in the freezer so that there will be a little space for food leftovers so we don’t have to eat turkey more days that we want to. We’ve still got last year’s Christmas pud – we eat clementines which we have to find a cold safe place for and we try so hard not to give chocolates but there are always too many stacked high everywhere in the shops that someone will have given way and bought some which will be enough for everyone.

We are going to try and share making Christmas more. Try and make sharing the time that we have together better, We’ll go for walks when we need breaks from each other and each other’s children. If we have time we’ll set up a walk with a quiz. There are some apps for these now. We might be teaching a Granny to text. Then if she goes into hospital she will be able to ask us to being things she wants in. This a very worthwhile activity and the kids will be good at this.

I’m thinking of giving a parent’s young carer a voucher for a Panto so that she can share an activity with her family – if she can. Carers won’t have much time off as families are more spread out than they used to be and travel and time make it harder to gather the family together. So many people don’t get enough time off and find it difficult and very expensive to travel to see friends and family at Christmas.

TerryinDorset says:
14 December 2013

Do what I do – ignore the nauseating Christmas claptrap…..many many years ago I stopped following the herd & the Christmas spending hype & do you know what? It works! Christmas just doesn’t happen. Ask yourself what IS Christmas really all about & you have the answer – it’s a commercial event (like the Sales) with fairytale overtones. Just spend as you would normally & you can still have a nice mid-winter experience. It is unfortunate that most people are brainwashed but you don’t have to be one of them……………

Sally Montgomery says:
14 December 2013

In protest Against the rising prices of energy and food coupled with Govt cuts to welfare I’m advocating a more sustainable lifeste and a boycot of overcommerciised events such as Christmas.
I now grow my own fruit, veg, herbs and nuts. Produce virtually no waste. Have reduced all my utilities and will continue until I reach zero. I generate some energy for myself and the grid, this will increase year by year. Produce most of what I need, love gifts that are home made or reflect interests and talents. I’m happier healthier and less stressed.

Sally Montgomery says:
14 December 2013

Hi I got around the issue of people buying me things which I didn’t want or need by requesting that people give of themselves, so they can give their time or talents. Grow something, write something, spend some time with me, help me complete a task, share some information. We all have gifts and talents, some of my family and friends are musicians, poets, writers, artists others come and help me with a task, teach me something. When my daughter went to Uni I told her that she was not to waste money on gifts which I didn’t need and she couldn’t afford. She invited me for a weekend with her, had worked out a guided tour of Oxford with a packed lunch to eat at the Botanic gardens a coffe in the oldest coffe shop etc. best present I’ve ever had, so much thought and attention to detail. She made a booklet and DVD for her dad whose health meant he could never visit. Entitled “welcome to my world” couldn’t have got here without your love, support and inspiration.
You couldn’t put a price on those gifts xx

Sally Montgomery says:
23 December 2013

It was very basic David, I turned down the offer of her bed in favour of the floor which was more comfy. But yes it was great, it was the little things that meant so much, the Botanic gdn was nippy in Feb but lovely none the less. The memory will last forever, she gave her most precious gift which was her time when that was of the essence. Seasons greetings to you and yours xx

Sally Montgomery says:
14 December 2013

Hi Richard, I doubt downsizing is in itself the answer but trying to make your home more energy efficient and other stratergies geared towards reducing food and living costs may help. We can’t rely on the Govt as they are too busy looking after their own interest and too incompetant to come up with solutions. In short as they are part of the problem they are not going to be part of the solution.
Let me know if you want any help or advise, take care

Thanks Sally – but I don’t need extra help What the original poster conveniently forgot to mention – I have a degree in physics – a degree in IT and a degree in education – The degree in education meant I actually TAUGHT financial management for over 30 years.(rather like teaching a grandmother to suck eggs)). My house is completely energy efficient (I used to install heating systems in my spare time) – has been for 30 years (when I retired) – I actually need the 9 roomed Home, You see I run a dog care system for the local poor and elderly who need to go into hospital but can’t afford the high boarding charges – I have up to 19 dogs at one time – I don’t charge – and it relieves the strain on local “rescue” groups that have to cope with the more aggressive dogs. The dogs I care for are the ones that can’t cope with kennel life but are happy in a home environment – each sharing a room. . Each dog is walked three times a day – groomed and examined – I actually have young volunteers who happily walk the dogs and gain a love of the dogs which seems to counter the present emphasis on dog fighting and irresponsible ownership The dogs enjoy the interaction – I gain great satisfaction from helping the vulnerable so have no interest in downsizing – sadly selling off my assets won’t solve my problems – only a change in government will..

“only a change in government will..” I can’t see how any party is any different/better than the others.

We have one that by negligence allowed the banking sector to collapse the economy whilst selling off most of our gold reverses and mullering everyone’s pensions. And taking us into a war bias on a lie.

The current lot seem not to care about the little people, allowing large corporations to avoid paying tax and then letting them decide to make donations in a false attempt to be seen as doing the right thing. If only individuals could choose the amount of tax to donate…

What is needed is a complete overall of the political system. Starting with capping terms to 2 years so they have to start thinking and acting as there’s an election coming up and not doing nothing for 3 years and then jumping up and down. And they are so not in it together whilst they’re allowed to claim all those expenses. Its a job, everyone else has to pay travel, heating , eating bills they should be no different. And if you think that’s tough on those MPs that live more than 100 miles away than its the 21st century why can’t they video conference.

And the Lords, what’s with turning up for less than 30 mins and getting £300 daily allowance. Bonkers.

A root and branch overhaul of both systems is long overdue.

And I love what you’re doing with the neighbourhood dogs. 🙂

Sally Montgomery says:
23 December 2013

Ah well in that case I may well be asking you for advice Richard. Good luck with the dogs and seasons greetings to you and yours x

Happy holidays to you too!