Dickens’ A Christmas Carol may well have been published back in 1843, but its message of cheer and charity in the heart of winter is still relevant today. It’s a message that Scrooge learns when he’s visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, but maybe there’s something to be said for more of a frugal outlook. Especially if you’re looking to build up your Investment Plan in December.
With this in mind, here’s our guide to Christmas, inspired by Scrooge a year after the events of his fateful encounter with the spirits of Christmas. He’s a little older, a lot wiser, but he still knows that it’s important to keep an eye on the pennies.
It’s the week before Christmas and unless you’re very well prepared you’re bound to have at least a couple of presents still left to get. At this stage, it’s easy to throw money at the problem. While you may well pick up something expensive, it might not be the most thoughtful present. Instead of just dashing off into town and hoping for the best, you’ll be better off doing a little clever research beforehand.
Online search tools are your biggest ally and with a couple of simple searches you can get a lot of inspiration quickly. Try something along the lines of “perfect gifts for him/her/wife/mum” to get started. Once you’ve found a couple of good ideas, you can then compare prices online. Google’s Shopping search tool is useful, or you can do a quick search around the top ten ranking websites for each gift idea. Check the shop’s availability in your local store and then it’s just a case of turning up and picking it up at the cheapest price available.
If you’ve got the time and the skills, another option is to try your hand at making something yourself. Even if it turns out to be a bit of a disaster, it’ll show a whole lot of love, as well as making for a few good laughs on Christmas morning.
The perfect Christmas dinner
Shopping around and hunting for good quality and value are no-brainers for Christmas dinner. However, if you want to be even more frugal with your spending, you could consider a couple of alternative options. The first is to replace a full-sized turkey with something a little less expensive without the need for quite so much cooking time. Chicken or a gammon are worth considering as they’re a lot more reasonably priced and take a fraction of the time to cook. Throwing in more veg is also a good way to serve up a big plate without spending a fortune. If you want to go the whole hog you can make this Christmas completely vegetarian.
Get out and about
Getting all the family out for a Christmas Day walk is a great way to turn everything off in the house and spend some quality time together. Whether it's visiting a friend or relative, or just to work off the spuds and gravy, it’s a good opportunity to spend a little less on your utility bills. Plus, it gets everyone doing something together instead of being glued to the TV for the whole day.
Board games, jigsaw puzzles and party games
When you get back from the walk, you can keep the no TV Christmas fun going by moving onto a series of board games, jigsaw puzzles and party games. A 1,000 piece white cliffs of Dover epic should keep everyone busy for a couple of hours.
Plan for Christmas 2017
It may sound a bit far-fetched, but there’s plenty you can do over Christmas to get ready for next year. Collecting pine cones on your walk and decorating them for the tree is a cute way to keep everyone entertained. Equally, you can take advantage of the winter sales to pick up a great looking fake tree. That way you’ll save in the region of £50 a year on the real ones for the rest of your life. If your Scrooge-like outlook digs deep enough you could also save any unwanted presents received and give them to people who might like them next year.
The winter clear out
Once Christmas is out of the way, you can move on to a winter clear out to generate some cash. Bring together all your unwanted gifts, or anything else that you no longer need, and sell them online. eBay, Gumtree and musicMagpie are all good options to get some cash back from your unwanted items. The whole cathartic process will help you to declutter the house ready for the New Year too.
Hopefully, with the money that you save or make from our Scrooge’s guide to Christmas, you’ll have more to either top-up or start an Investment Plan (even at Christmas it's a good idea to keep your money working hard for you).