It goes without saying that at this time of year the main thing on most people’s minds is Christmas. And when seeing clients and colleagues the same topics are normally discussed ‘All ready for Christmas?’, ‘Where are you for Christmas this year?’, ‘Got many people to buy for?’.
In the office last week we were talking about those very things, the common questions and we all agreed that once you get to a certain stage in your life, when you see something you like, you buy it.
Now, I don’t say this flippantly, I certainly don’t buy everything I would like, but it is becoming less common for people to wait until Christmas or a birthday.
Often it seems that more and more Christmas is a money exchanging exercise,
‘I owe you £20 for that, can you buy for that person and then you owe me, etc etc’.
In these cases the art of giving is devalued. No longer is it as special, the anticipation of what people may or may not receive.
I’ve seen a few quotes that say ‘Don’t go into debt trying to show people how much you love them’ and of course as a Financial Adviser you would expect me to agree with that.
Too often we hear about January debts, people struggling to make ends meet as the December bills come in.
Try to be realistic with your spending, if you haven’t budgeted this year, then make sure you start to plan for next year, taking note of where you have overspent this Christmas.
All of this got me thinking, is there value in what I like to buy for my family and friends? I don’t mean monetary, more so ‘Do they value it?’ and also ‘Does it bring me as much joy buying it?’.
I have found in recent years that I much prefer to gift people experiences.
It doesn’t have to be a weekend away or anything big, but maybe a meal out, a cinema trip, an afternoon tea. Things that we would not necessarily buy for ourselves.
The main gift in this sense is time. More often than we care to admit we find ourselves saying ‘I don’t have time, too busy, can’t fit it all in’ but these gifts buy us a couple of hours off the treadmill, time to spend with loved ones. In my opinion a much more valuable commodity than ‘things’.
This way the art of giving is still there, yet somehow more special, something to look forward to in new year.
All that said, this year is my first Granddaughter’s first Christmas, so for her it will all be about anything that sings or moves or that can be pulled along! In these past few months I’ve learned that toys really have gone up a few levels since my own daughter was born!
But more importantly than all of that, we will spend time together. That is the real gift of Christmas.