A (Financial) Christmas Carol

Guest post by moneysupermarket.com

Don’t you just hate it when Christmas draws closer each year and all the personal finance blogs start with their laboured and tenuous Christmas-related posts?

You do? Oh. Well, this definitely isn’t one of those, so please read on 😉

Christmas typically means spending more time looking at your finances than we’d like to. It’s an expensive month and one where we have to make our money stretch as far as possible, in order to make it last to the New Year.

With all the furious spending and the avalanche of advertising and sales, it’s good to step back and take a look at your spending before you end up hung-over and penniless on New Year’s Day.

So, like the cautionary spirits who visited Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ classic tale, I present to you the three financial spectres: The Financial Ghost of Christmas Past, The Financial Ghost of Christmas Present and The Financial Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

The Financial Ghost of Christmas Past

How best to make sure you don’t overspend this Christmas? Look at how you funded Christmas last year and the years before that.

If you whacked everything on a credit card and had repayment hangover which stayed with you until summer than it’s probably best to avoid using the credit card this year.

Ghost of Xmas Past

Or you could always look at the way you used the card and see if you could’ve been a little smarter about it. Did you just use the card you had at the time? Could you have shopped around for a better deal? A lower rate?

The Financial Ghost of Christmas Present

Dickens described the Ghost of Christmas Present as a jolly giant accompanied by a large feast. It’s nice to have a big meal with family and friends at Christmas, but there always seems to be a massive amount of left-overs thrown away.

Ghost of Xmas Present

Maybe think about cutting back, or at least being more pragmatic about the size of your Christmas meal this year. After all, Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Present was able to change his size to fit into any space – so why not change the size of your meal accordingly?

The Financial Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

 Want an incentive not to overspend this Christmas? A gaunt, towering spectre in black robes ought to do it. It was enough to scare Scrooge straight in A Christmas Carol and it might help you this year too.

If you overspend this Christmas, to the extent that it follows you into 2012, then Christmas 2012 is going to look pretty bleak. The third of Dickens’ ghostly apparitions served to show Scrooge that if he didn’t change his ways, things would get a lot worse.

Basically, when you’re spending this Christmas, think about how long you’re going to be paying it all off for and change your ways before it’s too late!

Ghost of Xmas Yet To Come

Have you dealt with any of these Xmas ghosts before? Have you done anything differently this year (spent more, less, nothing)? And just for fun, what’s your favorite Christmas movie (the correct answer is Elf or The Grinch)?

11 thoughts on “A (Financial) Christmas Carol”

  1. Favorite Christmas movie, that is a no-brainer! Christmas Vacation tied with Christmas Story, duh!
    We save for Christmas year round and put money in a ‘separate account’. So we ‘technically’ pay with cash (or use our credit card and then pay it off right away). I always figure out how much our budget will be who we are buying for and then decide how much each person ‘gets’. We usually stay under budget as well, and that makes me happy! The leftover money stays in the account for next year!

  2. Aaaccckkkk! Christmas posts!
    The ones I really can’t wait to delete in my reader are the 50-95 “S.M.A.R.T.” posts we’ll get bombarded with Dec 26 through the end of January.

  3. I solve the Christmas spending problem by being Jewish and only buying Chanukah gifts.

    Have no favorite Xmas movies, but I do like The Wizard of Oz.

  4. Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, and Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” are my Top 3 Fave Christmas TV viewing … the latter was made the same year I was!! We normally only spend cash at Christmas; this year, our one and only gift was a “family” one… a new camera… we did put it on the cc in late Nov.; it’ll be paid off by the end of the year, as well as the approx. $200 we spent on family gifts.

    Food budget is always paid in cash (we plan for a large grocery bill in mid-December); we don’t scrimp when it comes to food for the holidays 🙂

  5. Haha! Fav Christmas movie will always be White Christmas, though I will seek out any and all performances of The Nutcracker ballet. Fav TV show is Charlie Brown Christmas.

    For the second year in a row, I’ve paid cash/used debit card for all of my Christmas shopping. And I’m not still not broke. Hallelujah!

    Mom is cooking Christmas meal, so I only need to spend about $5 making appetizers to much on.

    • Favourite Christmas movie? One that is always played this time of year is “Meet Me In St. Louis” (Judy Garland, 1944) it’s not necessarily a Christmas movie, but Judy sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and it’s my favourite secular Christmas song. Favourite TV show is a toss up between “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Charlie Brown”.

      This year for Christmas, so we didn’t overspend, we instituted a new tradition. Everyone is getting “something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read”. It’s worked out really well for our stress level and our pocketbooks, and the kids had a great time picking stuff out and learning the difference between a “want” and a “need”. We did end up getting them something fun for their “need” gift too…we want to do a lot of free outdoor stuff this winter, so they all got their own toboggans. Now we just need snow…it’s been mild here in Southern Ontario.

      For food, we do brunch on Christmas day instead of a big turkey dinner. We always have lots left over, but it never goes bad in a house with 10 people 🙂

      • It’s not looking like the weather’s going to cooperate in terms of having a White Christmas in Southern Ontario, Judi (I live in Southern Ontario as well)…. perhaps in the New Year your kids can enjoy there toboggans 🙂

  6. It’s a wonderful life!

    And to not over spend on food dad I and will do BYOD bring your own dinner this Christmas….kidding of course – tis the season to eat and spend – just enough to make everyone almost happy enough to hold them until next year.

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