Friday, 16 December 2016

No need to go mad just because it's Christmas

Hello and Good Morning. I've just had a good laugh. There is an article about me and how to save money at Christmas, in iNews, a budget daily newspaper. The journalist Katie Grant rang me yesterday for a chat. I usually get requests at this time of year asking for my money saving Christmas tips, but when I reply, I don't do Christmas, they usually give up and look elsewhere for their story. Katie stuck with it.

Click on this link and see the story yourself.  Britains stingiest woman offers her advice.

Anyway, let's press on. I did my Christmas shopping last night at Tesco. The yellow stickers cost me £6.21, and it's all good food. The total shop was £40.78, and with a voucher for £8 off this brought it down to £32.78.

There were only two of us waiting for the final reductions so we got the pick of the crop. Tons of veg as usual, broccoli and spinach my favourite. I will be cooking some of this up later today and putting portions of stew in the freezer. I might not have to go shopping again until after Christmas. In fact I could stretch what I have in my freezer and cupboards until the New Year.

I had it in mind to write something here about Christmas spending, or not spending, but Katie beat me to it, so I will add a few more thoughts on what she has already written.

Utility bills go up in winter, heating and cooking cost more, to budget for that savings have to be made elsewhere. Budgeting is an all the year round activity, there will be peaks and troughs throughout the seasons. Think about what you NEED, what you WANT, and what you will NEVER spend your money on. Compile your own lists on what is important to you, and what you can do without.

I can do without Christmas, not important, but I like a nice car, need to pay for my pets, and I like to go away on holidays and day trips. What I don't need is to shop at Sainsbury's Waitrose, and Marks and Sparks. I don't need a television set, don't need a licence. Don't need to eat out, don't need takeaways. I could list whole rafts of things I don't need, and my do need list will be very short.

If you have a partner, you should sit down together and do this exercise, you need to be singing from the same song sheet. No point in one person frugally saving pennies everywhere, when the other is squandering  it all away. That will only cause conflict.

If Christmas is important to you all well and good, go ahead, but do not go into DEBT for it. It is an annual event and there will be another one on the same date next year. It won't hurt to cut back on the spending for one year, or if you are like me, you might decide you can do away with it altogether.

I find it very liberating that I have chosen not to join in. My brain is not cluttered with the worry of getting the right presents, buying the right food, sending cards, and generally running around like a headless chicken trying to keep up. I can sit back and relax and watch everyone else getting their knickers in a twist. You will not see a furrowed brow on my face, you will see a wide grin from cheek to cheek.

No more lectures, do what you like, but don't come crying to me when the credit card bill lands on the door mat. I will just say, I told you so.

I had a lovely email from Amy of Hard up and Happy. She had difficulty commenting on my blog, so I will copy and paste it here.

 Hi Ilona,
I just want to say a huge thank you for your support and kind words on your blog - which is ace by the way. 
It means a lot when people are nice, as it's my philosophy to be as kind to others as I can, unfortunately this isn't always returned.
I won't concentrate on the negative Nellies though, as the positive comments are amazing. If I can help a few families be happy with what they have then that makes it worthwhile. I would have loved to have responded to each comment on your blog and my website, I'm afraid for some reason I can't? The comments plug in on mine is playing up. Anyway enough rambling I wanted to seek you out and say a great big thank you. You have made me very happy. From one thrfiter to another Merry Christmas!
Kind regards 
Amy 
Thank you Amy, lovely to hear from you. 
I'm beginning ramble now, it's lunch time, and I have things to do. An idea for another textile picture is creeping into my head, want to have a play with some fabric. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon. 
Toodle pip. 

42 comments:

  1. I too, do not do Christmas, I love Christmas, I do a lot of cross stitch that are holiday themed,but I just can't go through all that gift buying family stuff any more. There was a time that I'd get very sick over the holidays. After much soul searching, I realized that since my parents break up and trying to please both trying to keep the peace, I found I wasn't getting any of the peace.So I closed my purse and turned down invitations. I don't get sick any more,yep I'm selfish.

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  2. How dare they call you stingy - yo are one of the most generous people I read - you give of your time and your energy unselfishly.
    Grrrrr . . .

    Have a lovely Christmas, Ilona.
    J x

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    1. I know it's annoying, Joy, but don't get too angry. Since being in the press a lot this year, I now understand how it works. Use an emotive word and everyone will pay attention.

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  3. Great haul. Stick to your way of life it works for you. If only more people behaved responsibility with money.

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  4. Hi Ilona, Loving your comments about Christmas. We don't half get some funny looks when the Christmas shopping conversation comes up and "Have you done all yours yet?" or "Are you ready for Christmas?" We mention that we don't do gifts to each other and haven't done so for many years, we do have very few that we buy for others (girls at the vets etc biscuits-chocs)if you are ready or not Christmas will come and it will go. Like you we spend our extra money in other ways and we have what we need-want and would much rather go away for a few days than spend £££'s just because...never been one to follow the crowd and have no debt. I heard it called the retail race and that's exactly what it is, retailers look to make most of their trade over the Christmas period than any other time of year, so little wonder we are inundated in Christmas junk from August onwards. I do send a few cards (elderly relatives mostly),put up a tree, have a Christmas dinner and a few extra treats in. That's about it.....like I said it's here ...it's gone... so sorry you missed it! Rae x

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  5. Excellent Ilona, sound advice. I don't do xmas either, I'm not religious so why should I? The planet is dying under all our human wasteage, that's why I don't send cards any more, I just wish people would stop sending them to me as well and then we'd all be happier.

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    1. I understand your point of view, but some of us use the opportunity to keep in touch when we've had a busy year and maybe haven't had a chance to get together. It's nice to know that people are thinking of you when maybe you haven't linked up lately. I keep particularly nice pics on cards, and re-use the blank sides as shopping lists before putting them in the recycling. And I send e-cards to people I know who don't send cards any more. I'm an atheist but I love the whole sharing - putting lights up outside (and inside!) our houses, celebrating with communal Christmas meals and wishing each other well. There are lots of positive ways of promoting green ways of living, without taking the joy out of life!

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  6. You are a fabulous generous person and just because you choose not to exchange gifts or go crazy like the masses at Christmas that does not mean you are stingy. You regularly give your time and energy to charity and I know you give things to others on a regular basis when you have extra or find something you can't use. You just don't believe in waste. You do do Christmas, just in your own way with a handmade card or volunteering at the Christmas bazaar, or with a light in the window. People are so harsh with things they don't understand which both Amy and you have felt before.

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  7. I too can't comment on Amy's page as don't do facebook (must be only one on the planet that doesn't but won't be joining in) but one of your readers said I could post to her another way, will check it out as very kind lady. I laughed and laughed today - I haven't sent Christmas cards for 7 or 8 years and all know why, I donate to charity instead, however, I got in the same post TWO cards from the same person - what a ridiculous waste of time and money (stamps, card, getting in a tizz 'have I sent a card to...'). Ludicrous. My total spend for presents is £28, socks and scarves from Matalan - very pleased with that. We all do the same for the day, cheap and cheerful gifts; no daft kitchen stuff that gets put to the back of the cupboard to gather dust or modern technology that we can't even set up if we wanted to (usually you need to borrow a small child to get the wretched thing operable). As you say Ilona, the main point is - don't get into debt for Christmas and get uptight about it. Amanda

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    1. You can come sit by me, I wouldn't facebook if they offered to PAY me. : )

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  8. We do celebrate Christmas, but it has been scaled right down, we will be having some treats, but only on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, nothing ott, and that's it.
    Fantastic yellow sticker haul, a little corner shop is closing here tomorrow and we managed a really good stash this morning. I am looking forward to my challenge next year.
    We also like a decent car and love our days out and holidays, we will never go without these, but we can afford them like you because of how we live day to day.
    Have a lovely weekend.

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  9. We celebrate Christmas but don't spend alot. I save money through the year for gifts. Sometimes picking up something while on a trip in the summer. Useful items for grandchildren even tho they want video games, even at a young age. Quite the article about your spending in the paper. Live it how you feel best suits your budget. You're not a scrooge! I'm sure your young relatives will enjoy their money envelopes. Take and have a good weekend. I'm off to pkg my few calendars of my photo work to friends and family for Christmas. Cherrio!! https://grandmabeckyl.blogspot.com

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  10. www.123greetings.com is a free e card sending service. Not just Christmas.

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  11. Dear Ilona,

    Thank you for the links to Amy's blog. As for the latest article, I think the writer has a lot of nerve in referring to you as "stingy." Having read your blog for a few years, you are anything but...you give your time to your animals, friends, family and community unstintingly. You are within reason on your spending, save for what is important to you and live your life to the fullest as a decent human being. However, just because you do not succumb to the glitz and glitter of false consumerism, someone in the press has the nerve to call you "stingy"...She needs a few reminders about what is really important as well as a lesson in manners. The holidays here are low key and I'll enjoy them with two sets of friends. Best to you.

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    1. Hi. The writer, Katie, was just using a word from the headlines of previous articles earlier on in the year. Although I was a bit miffed at first, I don't bother so much now. We had a smashing conversation on the phone, and she fully understands where I am coming from. Don't blame her, she writes articles to sell newspapers, which pay her wages.

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  12. Another great post Ilona. Thank-you for the link to Amy. You are both very wise, courageous and generous in sharing your stories. If only more people had a good think about these things. I simply hate waste.....there is so much waste all the time and especially at this time of year. We celebrate Christmas with a picnic.... plain, simple fun. We all have choices, among them spending choices and choices about attitude. I choose to take the positive road, be content and happy with what I have and not worry about "keeping up" with others. Many thanks Ilona and Amy. I am positive you have both helped many see that there is another way. Cheers.

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  13. I have a large family but I don't overspend at Christmas because I budget for it all year round. I use my credit card to save money by taking advantage of online offers but the bill gets paid off in full from my special Xmas savings account. I certainly wouldn't go into debt to afford Christmas, if I didn't have the money I'd simply scale it down and spend less.

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    1. Very sensible, Helen. Glad to hear it.

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  14. I have a wide grin from cheek to cheek all of the time Christmas is no exception but I do admit I absolutely love it lol. I do it in a big way because there are a lot of us and everyone comes to us however there is no debt money is saved for Christmas and after that's spent that's it. I love my travel so most of our spare money goes towards that.

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  15. Hi Ilona, I don't think you should be referred to as 'stingy'. Stingy has connotations with 'mean' and you are not mean. You generously make your bags for charity funds, you take in animals and treat them with kindness and you willingly share your fabulous tips with your readers. I do like Christmas but I don't go all out like some people do with the spending. For me it is a rare opportunity to have my children and grandchildren all together. I like to treat them and I love to have some special eat-treats. However, I do this by saving a set amount each month and that is my Christmas budget. The thought of going into debt for it horrifies me. Whether you celebrate or not, I wish you a happy, healthy time over the next couple of weeks and for 2017. XXX

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    1. At first I was a bit miffed at being called stingy, but now I realize that it is just an attention grabbing headline. It gets people to read the rest of the article.

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  16. Hi Ilona, I don't think the article reflected the person I know from this blog at all! You have a great balance with knowing absolutely what is important to you and what you do not need to spend money on. I spend more on Christmas because it is important to me - never going into debt to fund it though! Just love the whole decorations and family meals thing, and also the cards to be honest. And I really love seeing the lights that people put up - that was something that never happened when I was young and I still find it quite exciting now!

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    1. Hi. The article was written purely on our phone conversation, there wasn't room to include more details.

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  17. Stingy! What a cheek. There is a big difference between being stingy and frugal. People matter not possessions. I just wish more people could see it like you do Illona. Jane xx

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    1. Hi. Katie used the word stingy because it was on the previous articles which came out earlier in the year. It is an attention grabbing headline. I don't take it too seriously.

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  18. What a gorgeous haul!!!! I can think of all of the lovely soups, stews and salads I could make!
    I don't think stingy/mean and thrifty are at all alike.....I think you have a great life and know WHAT'S IMPORTANT!

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  19. We buy ONE gift for Christmas - a family gift for the 4 of us (none of our relatives need anything, truth be told they have entirely more than they can properly care for). This year we decided on 4 tickets to a ballet. The kids don't know yet, but they loved the last ballet we went to and have watched this new one a few times (different productions from different countries) on youtube. They get the tickets 12/25 for a performance in.... March. It's okay, LOL, they love build-up. Also, live ballet is expensive - and it's not like we're in NYC or anything, we're in a midwest city. Sandi in Oklahoma

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  20. So, I read the article and it said 2 million turkeys will be thrown away Dec 25. ? Why?
    Sandi in Oklahoma

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    1. Hi. A lot of people have no idea on how to use the whole turkey, and will pick the bits they want and throw the rest away. Shocking. Also shops over stock and have lots left over. A few will be bought after Christmas and the savvy shopper will buy cheap and put it in the freezer for later. Dead fresh turkeys will not be fit for human consumption so perhaps will be binned. I think the number is a total of all the reasons why all the turkeys will not be eaten.

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    2. Wow. It's kind of shocking given the # of people who go hungry. This Thanksgiving one of our local missions was 17000 turkeys short, a week before the holiday, to feeding the # of people they usually feed. Word got out in time for them to get enough donations in, and there's been no news regarding being short for Christmas, but while 17000 turkeys short surprised me (how on earth do you cook that many...?) two million being trashed surprised me a lot more. Here we'd end up with the homeless eating turkey for WEEKS if there were 2 million excess. Rarely does one see a freshly killed bird unless it's ordered in advance, but there are plenty frozen. I'm a vegetarian, though, so it's faux turkey for me ; ). Merry Christmas!
      Sandi in Oklahoma

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  21. What a great food haul! I don't normally make wishes, but i do wish we had stores with yellow stickers.
    I felt the word stingy was a bit strong, too. We are who we are and what's wrong with it?

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    1. Hi. The word 'stingy' comes from a previous article in the papers earlier in the year. It's an attention grabbing tactic. Katie just recycled it for this article.

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  22. Great haul of yellow stickers Ilona our Tescos font cut the prices nowhere as low as yours. I did manage to get a lovely basket if fruit yesterday in Morrisons fir 1/2 price and it contain 9 different fruits all in perfect condition.

    I do do Christmas and really enjoy buying little gifts for people. I celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and it's the giving and little surprises you can to people that I enjoy doing. But I certainly do not go overboard, my main present for my grand daughter is a crochet mermaid blanket which I gave enjoyed doing in the winter evenings and she dies not know she is getting it.

    Enjoy the weekend.
    Hazel c uk

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  23. Three people have asked me this week when the charity shop will be open over the festive period, they all said they'll be in to buy the unwanted gifts to use throughout the year.

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    1. Hi. That's a good money saving tip, thank you.

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  24. I agree with the rest of you that Ilona is not stingy at all. It was probably the Daily Mail that first came up with that term last year.

    I know that Katie could only include so much in her article, but I wish she had asked more about your charitable giving, making bags and hearts to sell for the cat rescue.

    Christmas gift giving here in America is out of control. But from what I read, I think that the UK has us beat in terms of too much holiday food. I will make a simple meal for Christmas Day and that's it for holiday food for me.

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    1. Barbars M, if I'm correct the USA has a bigger festival in November (Thanksgiving) when you eat turkey etc etc. Of course, here we don't do that, our big holiday is Christmas - but unfortunately, it has lost most of its original message i.e. religious, and we are encouraged to go completely doolally with food (constant adverts in the press and on the tv), cards, and presents. Unless one is determined not to get exploited it really is the most horrific merchandising nightmare. Buy, buy, buy, keep up with your neighbours and friends... I've opted out of much of it for a while now, and feel so much more relaxed and stress-free. Ilona has got it right; do what you want, but don't be frivolous and then have the awful realisation in January and beyond: actually the stuff you bought has to be paid for. Amanda

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  25. You've got a great attitude to Christmas Ilona, I couldn't agree more. While hubby & I love the fun we have we only spend what we need and don't buy gifts. I hate the stress modern Christmas seems to surround people with but if we buy into it then it's our own fault. The older I get the happier I am with opting out & living life by my values!

    Just one question if you don't mind, when is the best time for final reductions at Tesco? Ours seems to be slow in making really good reductions so I often miss them.

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    1. Hello. In our Tesco they start marking down mid afternoon, but don't knock much off. The second sticker goes on at about tea time. The third and last sticker goes on around 7pm to 7.30pm, that's when it's 75% off. The later it is the cheaper things are, but you take a chance on what might be left.

      I think it's down to the manager of the store as to how he wants to time it. They are not all the same. You need to go a few times and watch what they do.

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    2. Thank you, I'm going to get to know my shop better!

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  26. If I could I would head for the hills well before Christmas and hide away until its all over. I enjoy having a tree but not the rest off it and particularly hate the rampant consumerism, food waste and overflowing bins post Christmas. Kristel

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  27. If I could I would head for the hills well before Christmas and hide away until its all over. I enjoy having a tree but not the rest off it and particularly hate the rampant consumerism, food waste and overflowing bins post Christmas. Kristel

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