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LOUISE FAIRSAVE: A frugal Christmas


LOUISE FAIRSAVE: A frugal Christmas

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This year has, so far, been one of new taxes, higher unemployment, and Government’s offer to provide tax certificates instead of paying cash in income tax refunds.

The result is that many persons will have reduced funds available for buying Christmas gifts. Here, then, are ten suggestions for getting through the Christmas season with limited cash in hand and minimal credit.

1. It is still early enough to announce to all friends and family that you have chosen not to give any presents this year. In turn, you invite them to cross you off their gift list for this year as well. Alternately, you can say that your gift-giving will be limited to a particular group or cause. For example, you may choose to give only to children under 18 years old.

2. You can get rid of the rising cost of greeting cards and the related postage by migrating to free online greetings cards. For those persons that you may not be able to reach digitally, a telephone greeting may do.

3. Creating a gift can be a special treat for the recipient. Examples are making sweets, baking cakes or bread, cultivating an ornamental plant in an interesting pot, laminating a spectacular scene in producing a wall hanging or creating various handicraft items.

4. A gift of your time or skill can make a memorable present too. For example, baby-sitting for a young upwardly mobile couple; doing chores around neighbours’ homes or for an elderly, incapacitated or sick relative or friend; or preparing a special meal may surprise and please the recipient.

5. What about writing a letter or poem of appreciation? Placed on seasonally decorated stationery, this gift may just hit the right chord with your recipient.

6. Similarly, preparing a photo album, collage or mosaic highlighting a topic dear to the heart of the recipient may he highly valued.

7. Can you agree with your family or friends to swap new or used clothes, books, CDs or DVDs as a way of creating a valuable gift for both parties? Check this opportunity out.

8. What about hosting a dinner party, a movie or games evening, a picnic or other joint activity for a compatible group of family and friends as your gift to them for this Christmas? A novel idea and a formidable learning experience for all is organising a bare-bones camp away from home for a compatible group of various ages. You may be surprised at what a valuable and lasting memory your event may become.

9. Similarly, arranging a group tour can be an exciting, informative and memorable experience for all ages. Tours of the observatory, the brewery or a distillery are possible options.

10. With the proliferation of online courses available on almost any topic, every age group of those persons on your gift list may be accommodated by offering them a course that will be of interest. Then, there are also classes for subject like tennis, swimming, pastry-making, playing a musical instrument or pole dancing, just to name a few, that free or low-cost introductory sessions may be fascinating to someone on your gift list. You just need to facilitate that introduction as your gift.

These suggestions are meant to trigger your own ingenuity in minimising the out-of-pocket cost of your Christmas giving this year, yet allowing you to create similar or even greater value for your family and friends.

You know your people; be guided by their specific disposition, likes and needs in arriving at gift-giving solutions that maximise your family’s, friends’ and your own Christmas happiness and financial comfort.

• Louise Fairsave is a personal financial management adviser, providing practical advice on money and estate matters. Her advice is general in nature; readers should seek advice about their specific circumstances. This column is sponsored by the Barbados Workers’ Union Co-op Credit Union Ltd.