Don’t let the loan sharks bite this Christmas

It’s barely 12 days to the big day in the festive calendar. Christmas is about showing & giving love to your friends & family.

We all feel the pressure to buy our loved ones the best we can afford and for many of us we will feel the pull of the Legal & Illegal Loan Sharks. They are called sharks for a reason so steer clear of them.

Here are a few ideas to give you some help or inspiration. Please forgive me if I’m a little bit too late for this year but these are tips to use all year round. My family live on a very tight budget so I’m preaching what I practice.

1) your kid needs a laptop/computer to do their school work. Don’t buy a brand new one. Visit sites like Amazon, Currys, PC World etc, don’t just look at the clearance lines but check the refurbished items.
For example I was looking on Amazon, typed in Refurbished Laptop – a great list came up. I looked at a good number but the best ones to actually buy have a 3 to 6 month guarantee with them. There maybe a few scratches here & there but the same item maybe over £400 new but only £130 refurbished. Your kid won’t mind as long as they’ve got what they need. This principle can be used for almost every electrical appliance.

2) Money is usually tight all year round but if you can from February onwards check the discounts from the likes of Studio 24. In February you can pick up sale items for a wide range of items but at such a low price you can manage to again get high quality gifts with upto 90% off!
I usually buy pyjamas for my younger family members just buy them for a year or two older than they are at the time. Same for any other clothing.
I don’t recommend it for shoes unless you need them there and then because kids have a habit of not growing according to charts.

3) It’s not easy but if you can do it either;
a) put all your lose change into a savings jar & then every month buy a gift with it or
b) put it in the bank, PostOffice or even a Christmas club so that you save up for Christmas and/or other event. If you try doing the saving in this way it never seems quite so painful.
c) join a Credit Union & pay in what you can & if you need to borrow etc then you can do so without any fear or worry.

As my Nana used to say “take care of the pennies & the pounds will take care of themselves.

4) Use EBay and search for specific things or general by using the search term unwanted gift. Use your common sense on this & don’t buy expensive items. (Chap didn’t read the description properly, thought he had bought his kid a new Playstation or Xbox it was only a photo of the gaming device not the actual machine).

5) Set a limit on what you will spend on each person. By looking all year round you can get some lovely things rather in-expensively.
(EBay job lots are cracking for this but as ever always read the description carefully as you may think you are bidding on half a dozen bath bombs but it’s only going to be 1 actually sent not the 6 shown in the photo)
You can get a number of these and make your own little gift set.

6) Make the gift from the scratch, papier-mâché models, knitted clothing, Christmas door wreaths (these can be made so cheaply, buy the ring but then forage for the holly, pine cones, chest nuts, acorns & check what you’ve got in your Christmas decoration boxes).

7) Do Not Feel Pressured Into Debt to give your family everything on their wish list.
Being a good parent is about giving them what they need & not always what they want. My kids have asked for Lego (buy it on EBay 2nd hand job lot – wash in Bleach to ensure germ free) to a Pony (again a rocking horse that you can clean over & give them)

Little kids aren’t bothered if it comes on a cornflake box or just simply wrapped with a few black bin liners. Kids don’t care for the packaging, unless it’s big boxes then the toys you’ve bought are redundant as we all know kids love the boxes more!

Older kids can be given the blunt truth that you will only buy them what you can afford. Always get 2nd hand bikes it saves a fortune.

I’ve always tended to try to give my lot the best gifts they want for birthdays. That way Christmas is not so daunting because you only have one child to buy for.

Maybe this is a bit late to share this year but if you get into the habit from January onwards you can have loads of expensive gifts that actually didn’t cost you anywhere near the normal price.

Finally get yourself signed up for Groupon, they have some amazing things at massively reduced prices. You usually get an e-mail every day or two (depending on what they have) the discounts can be son fab it’s worth a good look. Read all the details before buying as there are sometimes conditions etc.

So there you go, that’s my way of coping & I manage to stay out of debt (occasionally a little overdrawn) especially with these TV Quick Loans or Loan Sharks steer clear because the interest is crippling when borrowing in this way. Find out if you have a credit union in your area. If so then all the saved pennies from your purse//wallet is safely put away month after month & should you need a loan then use the Credit Union because their interest rates will a a few percent NOT a few thousand percent.

I hope this helps but always remember that your family would rather a) have nothing (older relatives), b) will wait for their birthday, c) not in debt.

A homemade gift is often lovely & means more that something you’ve bought.

Merry Christmas & use your imagination you’ll be surprised at how much people love what you’ve made because to make things shows you’ve put love & care as the special unique ingredients.

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