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LOUISE FAIRSAVE: 12 ways of Christmas


LOUISE FAIRSAVE

LOUISE FAIRSAVE: 12 ways of Christmas

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HOW WE ALL WISHED that money grew on Christmas trees. Then, we would be able to afford pricey gifts for all our dear relatives and friends. 

However, not only is there no easy funding available, but this year our wallets are even flatter than usual as we adjust to a new range of taxes, levies and fees. Today’s article looks at getting through the Christmas gift-giving period ahead while avoiding plunging into deeper debt.

1. The very first step is to determine a comfortable budget for 2015 Christmas giving and to commit to not spending even a cent more this year. 

2. Considering your budget, prepare a revised gift list of people and possibly the likely cost of each gift. This will allow you to give early signals to others about your more modest plans for this year.

3. Your budget then serves to control your spending. You may take more time shopping around, comparing prices and selecting gifts, but the effort is essential and worth you keeping within your plan. This is the best gift you can give yourself.

4. As a cost-saving measure, propose a gift exchange arrangement in groups of friends and relatives. Rather than each person getting all the others individual gifts, each person in the group pulls a name from a bag with all the names and buys that one person a special gift. Such arrangements tend to allow for more effective and appreciated gifts.

5. Then, are there any items within your household that would be truly appreciated by someone on your gift list? Have you received duplicate gifts in the past that may be “regifted”?

6. Consider the Christmas deals, sales and coupons as you shop around for gifts. Are there contests you can enter as you shop around? A surprise rebate or prize would be very welcome.

7. Consider giving a training or educational gift that may change someone’s life. For example, tennis lessons, music lessons or lessons in a foreign language. This may be arranged so the costs fall due over the period of the lessons and not necessarily at the Christmas money-pressured time.

8. What about making your gift? Can you sew, cook, paint or do other crafts? A self-made gift with a special personal note may be highly appreciated by a relative or friend.

9. Whatever you do, avoid impulse buying. At Christmas, every shop tries to catch your attention with glitz and glamour. If you succumb to such temptation in straying from your planned budget, you need to adjust the budget accordingly. This may mean crossing someone off your list or reducing the planned amount to be spent on a gift.

10. The camera in your smartphone may be used to create special videos or photographic memory albums for others as memorable keepsakes. Even an individual photo of a distinctive moment or occasion mounted in a suitable frame can become the treasured memento of a recipient.

11. Remember the underprivileged and disadvantaged and extend charity. One author describes charity as a ritual of wealth. Consider donating unused or gently used items that are no longer needed to charity, volunteer to assist community groups in their Christmas outreach, or make telephone greetings to shut-in members of your community.

12. Give thanks, praise and worship. Thank your relatives and friends and tell them of your love. Christmas time also provides an exceptional occasion to praise and worship God, to acknowledge His providence and our dependence on Him for all that we are and all He allows us to be stewards of.

• 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.

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