Christmas has come and gone, the New Year has been toasted in, the decorations are down and the house looks a little bare. Maybe too much was eaten or drunk, hopefully the presents were a big success, and perhaps the bank account is a little lower than I’d like.
Budget is probably the wrong word; the idea was to buy the right presents for people rather than worrying about spending £X on each person. For this I budgeted, watched what I was spending and saved where I could.
However, we did rely on the services of a payday lender in order to help us through the month of spending.
I know what you’re thinking and believe me I agree. I don’t normally make a practice of using online loans at a eye-watering rate of interest, however, my hand was somewhat forced by the fact we had forsaken credit cards some 9-months prior.
Using a payday loan was a compromise. We only took out a small amount of £200, which we chose because I felt that I surely must have a poor credit rating following the disaster we had with the credit cards previously. The total repayable was £246, again like I said not great but a COMPROMISE.
The ides is to now repair the loan with as minimal fuss as possible and to continue economising on spending, as we have been doing.
I certainly got an amazing present from my husband and the boys, a silver necklace with two heart shaped pendants each with an impression of the boys’ finger prints. It is wonderful, unique and precious beyond words.
Although it wasn’t a low budget present, it wasn’t as expensive as you might think, and was the right present, which is what this Christmas was supposed to be about.
Keep the saving going
I intend to carry this ethos on this year. How? I have spent this evening mending. A body warmer had a rip in a seam, but not anymore, and our sofa has developed a hole over the Christmas hols – too much playing on the Wii maybe? Only one cushion (the seat nearest the TV) has a hole, and the other sofa and armchair are fine. Do we take advantage of the amazing never ending sofa sales with interest free credit and nothing to pay for at least 6 months or maybe take out another payday loan? Or do we fix the hole, find a throw, and get another couple of years out of it? It’s mended, and the throw is in place.
I hope we can keep this philosophy going throughout 2018 and beyond. If we need to buy something (at the moment I’m after a digital SLR camera for work projects and home use too) I want to buy the best value for money item I can. Not the most expensive, or cheapest, but, a bit like Christmas, the right item at the right price, the best we can get within our budget and not have to rely on a payday loan or credit card for our purchases, something that will last, and can be repaired rather than replaced if it goes wrong.
My thoughts on payday loans
These loans are without doubt predatory, they appeal to those of lower incomes with the promise of instant cash and deliver a product that is vastly more expensive than a loan from other sources. Why did I use one in that case?
Simple I knew I was going to pay it back. Did I need one? Most certainly I did. So the issue for me was simply a moralistic one over the stories I’ve read and my pre-conceptions over them. Once I started researching them it seemed like a fair (NOT CHEAP) transaction for the situation I was in.
Going forward the word is definitely economise and I don’t plan on making it a habit. I’ve resisted buying things we don’t need in the sales – all I’ve bought are some shoes that I needed (could have done with them a month ago, but waited until the sales!), some socks for my eldest son, and some half price Christmas cards (which will only be a bargain if I put them in a place where I will be able to find them next November). There were definitely more bargains to be had, but if we didn’t need them, were they really a bargain? I decided they weren’t, and saved my money.
Food is another area where we can make cut backs without losing quality. I work part time. I teach one day a week, and then another two or three days flexi- time working from home, so I am lucky that I do have time.
By making and baking things from scratch, you get better quality for less money. We got the River Cottage Everyday book for Christmas, and Micro son and I made the most amazing pizzas last week – we each had the toppings we wanted (mushroom, cheese, ham, pepperoni, egg (!!)). There was more than enough for four, and it cost a fraction of the price of shop bought or take away pizzas. It took longer to make, but not as long as driving or walking to the shops, and I bet it was healthier. I just hope we can continue this through 2018 and beyond too.
Hopefully if we stick to our plans, we won’t need to be frugal or on a tight budget this January, or at all in 2018. We can mend what can be mended, repay the loan we took out, cook as many meals as we can from scratch using fresh, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients (which will also save money, reduce our carbon footprint, and support the local economy), buy the best that we can afford, but only buy what we really want, and, more importantly, what we need. Fingers crossed!!