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COLUMN: Christmas spending? Time to rein it in, Rudolph!

As a recession seems imminent, columnist offers 10 ways to tighten the belt and make this Christmas a little easier on the bank account
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Stock image | Photo by Martin Alargent via Pexels

We have already survived Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

If you are smack dab in the middle of Christmas preparations, you have likely heard the voices in your head already repeating some of the old catchphrases. 

“I just have to cut back this year.”

“We are going to have to set a limit and stick to it.”

“How can I be overdrawn already?”

Every year, we think prices are too high and salaries are too low, but this year, it really isn’t an exaggeration.

Officials may not be calling it a recession, but it sure feels like we are close.

We really need to rein it in.

You can’t miss it if you’ve been in a grocery store lately.

If you can still afford the bread then you might not be able to afford the butter to go on it.

Meat? More of us may have to go vegetarian. Oh nope, can’t do that due to the cost of lettuce.

Cereal? Since when are frosted flakes sprinkled with gold?

I was thinking about all the people who bake incredible amounts of goodies for friends and family. How in the world will they afford the ingredients?

It has always been sort of a given that we get to enjoy extras at this time of the year. Whether that be a hot chocolate with whipped cream from the drive-thru or snacks you might not normally buy. 

We all spend more than we need to. I’ve been trying to think of ways to cut back without losing any of the fun of the season.

These won’t work for everyone, but here are a few ideas:

  1. Choose whatever meat is on sale for Christmas dinner. Truth be told, I think a lot of families have turkey just because it's tradition. Let’s face it, it's kind of dry and bland and it lasts way too long. If ham, roast beef or chicken is cheaper, then what’s the difference, really?
  2. We don’t need three vegetable dishes of varying colours. I think that was a thing in our grandmother's day. (“We must have a green, an orange and a yellow.”)  One veggie is fine. Maybe one too many.
  3. Don’t bother with the jellied salad. Just don’t. The family will thank you. (I will also gladly skip the multi-coloured marshmallow one.)
  4. We can definitely reduce the number of crackers, dips, sauces, and snacks. Pick a couple and enjoy those.
  5. In the lead-up, start stocking up on anything that is on sale now. It might keep you from spending extra when you are running out of time and ingredients.
  6. Try shopping at thrift stores. There are some really good deals on some brand-new items if you get lucky.
  7. Dollar stores are proving to be my best friend for stocking stuffers and decorations. I know there is nothing that is still a loonie, but they do have some good bargains.
  8. One rule is all gifts must be usable this year. Fun as it is, the joke gifts have got to go. The prices are not funny, anymore.
  9. Try gift cards for things we all need — a gas card, one for groceries, theatre, car wash. When it is February and money is scarce, those will be so valuable.
  10. Offer your services. Could you help someone out with some repairs, program a TV, replace light bulbs that are too high to reach? Maybe pet sit? Make someone a meal? Pull up a chair and let them vent?

Sometimes I think we make things way too hard for ourselves. Let’s all calm down and chill out.

Remember, it wasn’t long ago we couldn’t even get together for the holidays. Surely, that should be enough.

Maybe if we gave ourselves the gift of less stuff and less stress we might be richer by the end of it all.


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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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