The Importance of Financial Wellbeing at Christmas
Managing your money at Christmas can be tough – even more so during the last two winters, with the development of the cost of living crisis. However, feeling comfortable and free from financial concern can make the difference between enjoying the festive season and finding it overwhelming or anxiety-inducing.
Perhaps you’re looking to celebrate more sustainably, master your usual budget struggles, or you want to get on top of your worries about buying the perfect present for all your countless relatives. Planning our finances can help all of us enjoy Christmas with less of the strain on our mental health and emotional wellbeing – so, keep reading to find out how you can swap anxiety for excitement and create all your usual memories without draining your bank balance.
Conscious or unconscious response?
If you usually struggle with spending too much or going way over your budget, the first step towards change is to recognise your emotional spending triggers. For example, it is common for people to spend money to distract themselves when they’re angry, or to reward themselves when they’re feeling happy. Once we understand our triggers, we can then try to create a gap between the stimulus and response. This allows us to have a conscious response instead of an unconscious reaction. Why is this so liberating? It opens up choices for us.
Gambling is one of the top addictions that some people struggle with, despite its damaging consequences. The effects of gambling addictions can spiral out of control to affect every aspect of an individual’s life, including debt and conflict with family and friends.
Further information and support with gambling:
Control emotional spending by recognising emotional triggers:
- Ask yourself, do I spend when I am happy, bored, angry, or sad?
- Do I spend money to reward myself for completing a tough task?
- The next time you feel tempted to buy that new pair of shoes, pause, set a wait time, and ask yourself if you really want or need them.
How to have fun without breaking the bank
- Ask yourself, “What skills or talents do I have that could allow me to cut spending?”: If you enjoy cooking, try cooking more meals at home instead of ordering takeaways or eating out. Did you know that the average Briton spent £641 on takeaways in 2021?
- Try a minimal spend weekend: Go to the park, visit no-cost museums and historic sites, make a hot chocolate at home and go for an evening walk to see your local Christmas lights, volunteer for a charity that needs support this festive season, read a book, or go for a run.
- When present shopping: Do your research and don’t end up paying top dollar: shop around, compare deals on any planned purchases and ensure you are getting the best price you can.
- Avoid overloading your supermarket shopping cart with unnecessary items: write a shopping list and stick to it! In a 2021 survey of 1,000 US shoppers, 57% added unplanned purchases to their baskets every time they visited the supermarket.
5 Money Saving Tips for Financial Wellbeing at Christmas
Set a budget before deciding on Christmas gifts
- Decide what you can afford to spend and stick to it.
Stop unnecessary gift giving
- Could you agree with some friends or relatives to give presents a miss this year? They might be relieved that they won’t have this financial burden either. This idea isn’t for everyone, but might suit some!
- Rather than buying individual gifts for family members or groups of friends, could you suggest running a Secret Santa with a maximum spend instead? Having a low price limit can actually be more fun and make it a challenge!
Look out for deals on items you plan to buy
- This time of year, there are lots of deals and discounts on offer, so keep an eye out for items that you plan to buy. However, beware of buying something that you wouldn’t otherwise purchase just because it’s on discount – this is a false economy! You won’t be saving money if you wouldn’t have bought it if it wasn’t reduced.
Consider making your own gifts
- Perhaps you could make a batch of brownies as a gift, or put a skill or crafting hobby to good use?
- Instead of a present, could you make your own vouchers pledging to do something nice for the recipient, such as a night of babysitting, or a promise of a home-cooked meal?
- Don’t leave Christmas shopping until the last minute, give yourself plenty of time to plan what you need to buy and investigate where you can find the cheapest deals. Don’t be rushed into panic-buying more expensive items out of desperation!
We are strongly shaped by the overbearing pressure of the consumer society that we live in to constantly spend more and find bigger, better Christmas presents for our loved ones every single year. It is also now easier than ever for many of us to access credit, sign up to ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes, or take out short terms loans, all of which can quickly spiral out of control if we spend beyond our means.
However, we need to take responsibility for our own actions.
Money-related emotions play alongside these external forces and are similarly powerful. In order to manage these emotions and buying impulses, it’s essential that we learn to identify and respect them, while recognising that we are not helpless in resisting them. If we are mindful of our own personal drivers that constantly incite us to spend more, with a little willpower, we can still positively change our behaviour around money.
Furthermore, from a health and wellbeing perspective, financial insecurity and poor mental and physical wellbeing can all feed into each other and form a triad of negativity. However, on the flip side, by looking after all aspects of your wellbeing, this triad can feed you positively.
It’s understanding this relationship which highlights the importance of working towards better financial wellbeing.
In truth, money is a complex issue, and we may never get our heads around it completely, but we can still focus on what we can do and what we have control over in order to feel better about preparing for this festive season.