A Frugal Christmas: My presents system to avoid waste
Christmas is around the corner, and the may well be goose getting fat, but you can bet your arse your wallet most probably isn’t. I expect many of you are stocking up on bits ‘n’ bobs already, maybe even bought a present or two? Depending on where you stand on the frugality scale you may fall into one of the following five categories (or somewhere in between) when it comes to how you feel about Christmas, and in particular presents:
1. Scrooge McDuck – No one gets any presents. “Bah Humbug” you say, “I bloody well hate Christmas” etc… *dives into pool of cash*
2. Mrs Frugal-Maestro – You won’t buy any extravagant presents, but spending time with loved ones is what this time of year is really all about, and maybe a few gifts made with your own fair hands will be given out. All told, Christmas is a bit of a breeze financially-wise and not really much different to any other month of the year.
3. Mr Sensible Consumer – You find Christmas a bit of a struggle and have to start saving earlier and earlier every year just to make sure you have enough to pay for all the presents, but you always just about manage somehow! You seem to have such a large set of family and friends but you don’t want to leave anyone out.
4. Little Miss Spendy-Credit – Shopping is one of your main hobbies and you can’t resist buying all the nice new shiny things they roll out every year, doesn’t really matter who it’s for or how much it costs, just stick it all on the plastic and worry about it January, when you’ll be having a major detox from all the partying anyway.
5. Mr and Mrs Loaded-and-Generous – You’ve made it in life and want to share the wealth with your loved ones via lots of new gadgets, perhaps even the odd car or two when the kids get to the right age. Very admirable of course, just make sure you don’t spoilt them all into being self-entitled little twits… yea?
Where do you stand?
Whilst you probably want to avoid being in category 1 or 4, this is one post where I am not going to harp on about what I think people should or shouldn’t be doing and spending on your loved ones, or even ways to reduce this spending if you want to. There are plenty of other posts out there doing that already.
I will fully admit that I haven’t got the big brass balls to turn around and tell people we are having a no presents year this year, and to be honest, I don’t really want to either. ‘Tis the season to be jolly after all! So where does that leave us then?!
The TFS Frugal Christmas Present System™
I’ve made it sound rather grand, and don’t worry, I’m not about to try to flog you a three part money system at only $29.99 per sectoooorr. It simply boils down to the following two rules:
1. Make a list of presents containing things you need and distribute to people who want to buy you something.
2. For the few months running up to Christmas (6 months is even better) if you think you need to buy something… Go to rule 1*
Hopefully you can see the simple beauty of this system for minimising the usual exuberant wastefulness we see at yuletide. It not only saves you money . Obviously it has it’s limitations in that, if you need to buy a new tyre for your bike, you can’t wait another six months. The same goes for bread, milk etc. That would be a stupid suggestion. But for many of the things we think we need to buy right now – just pop it on the list. By the time Christmas comes around you might have even changed your mind on a few items and realise you have got on fine without it. In this way, your list becomes genuinely things you do need, or at worst it is things that you really want.
I would also encourage your friends and family to just tell you what they want as well. I don’t particularly like surprise presents and I get the feeling that a lot of other people are exactly the same, given the amount of goods that get returned in January!
To sum everything up, two well-known phrases regarding present giving and receiving spring to mind:
“What do you buy the man who has everything?”
Make sure you as far as to the complete opposite of this man as you can get, and you might get some decent presents you won’t be taking back / chucking out.
“It’s the thought that counts”
In terms trying to waste as little of our time, money, human labour, and the Earth’s resources, it’s definitely not the thought that counts.
Happy Frugal Christmas to one and all!
*One for the BASIC programming crowd there 🙂 Back ↑