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LOUISE FAIRSAVE: Containing your holiday spending


LOUISE FAIRSAVE: Containing your holiday spending

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THIS YEAR has been one of new and higher taxes, higher unemployment and limited opportunities to earn extra cash. The result is that many persons have reduced funds available for buying Christmas gifts and fare.

As we get nearer to Christmas Day, our purses are becoming more depleted. Here then, are ten additional suggestions for getting through the Christmas season with such limited cash.

Redeem all the vouchers, coupons, purchase points and such buying incentives which you have accumulated during the year in order to reduce the use of cash. For example, a gift of air miles may be highly valued by the recipient compared to the actual dollar value.

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 who you may not be able to reach digitally, a telephone greeting is worthy.

Free social media systems like WhatsApp and Skype allow you to call family and friends in distant parts of the world. Photos and videos may be shared on these systems as well. Such a seasonal catch-up on how you and they are doing and to be able to share Christmas greetings in this way can be comforting.

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 sewing a patchwork tablecloth.

Examples of the gift of your time or skill include offering to babysit for a young couple, doing chores around neighbours’ homes or for an elderly, incapacitated or sick relative or friend; or preparing a special meal that surprises and pleases the recipient.

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

Similarly, preparing a photo album, collage or mosaic highlighting a topic dear to the heart of the recipient may be appreciated.

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?

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 group of various ages. You may be surprised at what a valuable and lasting memory this event may become.

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

With the proliferation of online courses 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 subjects like tennis, swimming, pastry-making, playing a musical instrument or pole dancing, just to name a few. A free or low-cost introductory session 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, 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. Email: [email protected]  This column is sponsored by the Barbados Workers’ Union Co-op Credit Union Ltd.