Happy New Year! May 2017 bring you happiness, peace and lots of joy!
We had a lovely festive break and, now that January has arrived (I’m trying to stay positive about this!) I have been looking back at our spending to see how we did in our ‘Saving for Christmas’ series.
Sources of Funding:
In my first post here I listed different sources of money from which to fund our Christmas:
- Dedicated Savings Fund £180. Actual: £178 I came in slightly under budget on this one. This was where most of the money for buying presents came from.
- Nectar points. £10. I did have £10 in Nectar points but made use of the Sainsbury’s ‘Double Up’ promotion in November and spent £20 on wine.
- Boots Advantage Points. £15. This was about right but with the use of ‘3 for 2’ gifts I actually picked up £25 worth of gifts this way. These were spent on stocking presents.
- Quidco rewards.
£96.40 £73.82. Actual £66.82 (I didn’t realise that when I rented a couple of Love Film/Amazon films the payment defaulted to my giftcard balance so took £7 away from my Christmas budget). Although this wasn’t as much as I had planned for – and I did have issues about using Amazon- it really saved money taking my Qudico rewards this way.
- Loose change. £3ish. Actual: £2.35. This was spent on whipped cream and marshmallows for homemade hot chocolates.
- Usual food & drink budget. £150. Actual: £168.73. This was for two supermarket shops and my veg box and lasted until 28 December (when my regular monthly shopping took over). It really helped to meal plan and that we were eating Christmas lunch at my parents. So far we have eaten everything we bought, although I don’t think I would buy a salad box again.
- Facebook Sales. £50. Actual: £35. Boy, this was hard work! Lots of postings, re-postings and non-collections. As always I find these online sales a lot of effort. Still it managed to clear a few things we no longer needed and anything unsold was donated.
- Other sources: My husband and I hadn’t really spoken about present giving and, as I hadn’t budgeted for this, it was a stupid thing to do as he bought me a couple of gifts at the beginning of the month (including a second-hand The Jam album which I am v excited about!). Thankfully I had been given an Amazon gift voucher for my birthday so I used some of this to get him some books. Other sources for unexpected gifts came from my existing present drawer and we made quite a few biscuits and mince pies.
With regards to present giving I didn’t do so well with friends and relatives and ended up giving out gifts when I should have said no. Conversely, I also wish I had spent more money on my nephews and nieces. My children had a small budget of £40 each but didn’t seem to notice that we gave them fewer presents (incl some second-hand) than their grandparents gave them.
Talking of presents, we did persuade my in-laws to buy the girls an amazing experience as their Christmas present which was a ticket to the Harry Potter Studios (one of the best family days out we have had!!). They also bought (quite a) few other presents so it would be good to see this pile reduce and focus on the experience giving in the future.
Christmas ‘Bucket List’:
In my third post in this series here I wrote about what we were -and were not- going to do as a family this holiday. Our restricted budget meant we weren’t going to see a film/show, or go ice skating.We didn’t really miss these excursions, though.
Those activities that we did take part in were split into a) paid for and b) free:
Meals out with friends & family: We met up with friends for a grown up curry night as we do every year. For 2017 I will factor this cost into our Christmas savings, which I have failed to do so far. Similarly my husband and I had a day trip to London (while the children were with grandparents) and we could have saved better for this too. However I had budgeted for a pub lunch and meet up with the in-laws and we had enough money left to have tea and cake afterwards with my mother-in-law.
Works’ dos: Neither of us went to our works’ dos (due to illness, lack of planning) so this did save some money. We also received a couple of invitations to friends’ houses over the festive period and I made sure we had some bottles of wine in stock to take along (as well as some small candles I had upcycled)
With regards to free activities we took part in the following:
Boxing Day night Sleepover in the lounge (for the kids!)
Lots of Hot Chocolate (decorated with marshmallows and whipped cream bought with my loose change, as above)
Putting the decorations up
Family Games We picked up a couple of new (to us) board games and a puzzle which we played over the holidays, accompanied with homemade popcorn and toffee sauce. Still didn’t manage to play Risk, though (!)
Church Crib Service
Christmas Day visit to the pub
We also enjoyed a fantastic New Year’s Eve party at friends’ and were fortunate enough to be invited to a birthday party in Bath last night too!
Now that the festive season is drawing to a close I can look back and realise that: there are some things I didn’t need to buy;some things I want to buy for next time; and where I need to save more.
I am pleased that I stuck to my present-buying budget but want to work harder at cutting some presents, and spending more on a few other people. I also know there are a couple of food and drink items I can cut for Christmas 2017. But one of the biggest spends I hadn’t accounted for was meeting up with friends and families in restaurants. For 2017 I need to set a realistic target for this one so that we don’t go into debt.
As with every Christmas, though, it’s the actual spending time with family and friends that really counts. Whether this has to be budgeted for (if you meet with relatives who live a long way away)- or is free – it is these moments that make the festive season a memorable one.
How was your Christmas break?