What To Do If You Have No Money For Christmas
Christmas can be a difficult time if you’re finding it hard to make ends meet. Kids write long letters to Father Christmas. Streams of family members arrive expecting food and drink. You want to keep your traditions alive, which may mean travelling, cooking, and exchanging gifts.
As the cost of living crisis takes hold, Christmas 2023 may feel particularly hard. But even if you haven’t been able to start saving for Christmas yet, don’t feel disheartened. There are plenty of ways to make sure Christmas is a happy and celebratory time, without hurting your finances.
Here’s what you can do this year if you don’t have money for your usual Christmas extravaganza.
Ask friends and family to help
Christmas is a time for sharing and helping others. So don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family to make Christmas easier financially. You don’t have to borrow money directly if you’re uncomfortable asking for a loan — you can join a money club, which will help everyone ensure they have enough money for the important things this Christmas.
Learn how to start a money club if you don’t know anyone who’s already running one.
Ask someone else to host
If you usually host Christmas dinner or throw the legendary Christmas Eve party, you may feel pressure to repeat the tradition of previous years. But if it’s too expensive to feed and water your entire extended family, see if someone else can host the festivities this year.
Better yet, share the responsibility between everyone. Ask everyone to bring a dish and a drink for Christmas dinner, or split the hosting duties across the morning, afternoon, and evening.
Keep the celebrations small
There’s no need for all the trimmings — on the day, all you really need is some hearty food and your loved ones around you. So don’t be afraid to keep the celebrations small this year. That means cutting down on all the non-essentials like Christmas crackers, fireworks, and even Christmas gifts if it’s putting too much stress and financial pressure on you.
Apply to Toy Appeals
Charities like the Salvation Army and Family Action have set up Toy Appeals, where people can donate toys that are then distributed among families to make sure all kids who celebrate Christmas have a gift to open on the day.
If you’re finding it tricky to afford Christmas presents this year, it’s much better to use a Toy Appeal than to get into debt buying Christmas gifts. This will make for a much happier, less stressful Christmas for you and your family.
Don’t be afraid to say no
Make a list of your priorities this Christmas, and say no to anything that doesn’t contribute to these. That may mean turning down your office Christmas party, or having Christmas at home instead of taking a long trip to see family and friends. (Don’t think of it as a cancellation — you’re simply waiting until you can afford to do these things more comfortably.)
There’s no need to feel embarrassed talking about your finances with other people — almost everyone is feeling the pinch this year. But if you’re not comfortable with this, don’t feel you have to disclose too much — you can say you’ve made other plans, or you just don’t fancy it this year. Don’t let other people pressure you into spending money you don’t have.
Don’t be tempted by payday loans
Payday loans can seem like a quick fix to your money troubles — but they can cause a lot of damage if you can’t pay them back on time. This added debt can pile on the pressure during an already-stressful time of year. Payday loan companies aren’t known for their ethical approach, so they may lend you money even if you can’t afford the repayments.
Find out more about whether you should get a payday loan, and the consequences of not paying your debts on time.
Trim the kids’ expectations
If your kids are old enough to understand, explain that they won’t receive expensive gifts this year. Use this as an opportunity to help them learn about managing money. Setting an example like this can actually help them become better at budgeting and building their own wealth later in life, helping future generations become more prosperous.
In the meantime, make Christmas about more than material gifts. Play games, go to church, sing your favourite songs and carols, and have fun with the people around you.
More money management tips this way
Christmas is a particularly stressful time when it comes to your finances — but money worries affect millions of people all year round. Find out how to improve your money management and build intergenerational wealth for your family in the UK in these articles: