Sunday, 27 December 2015

On Christmas spending and other stuff

Supposedly, average household spending for Christmas this year is over  £800. That means for all those like that family on The Eat Well For Less programme last week who were spending £1400 on food alone there are many, many, more spending much less and going by another programme(that I didn't see) where the extremely rich spend over £1,500 just on Christmas Crackers there are some people spending way, way more. There are also many people who dread the arrival of their credit card bill in January because they know they spent so much on the card for Christmas that they will be paying for it for half the year.

Happily our spending was well below average and all paid for up-front. Even with buying presents for three children and their 3 partners (who I like to treat all the same), 1 Dad, 1 brother, 2 sisters, 2 brothers-in-law, 1 niece, 2 nephews and a few friends I cut spending by £150 on 2014's spend.

If your normal food shop is full of treats, extras and expensive foods then buying even more special things for Christmas must cost a fortune. The joy of  our simple life is that treats for Christmas can be pence rather than £s. So the extras that are not usually seen in my shopping trolley were a bag of watercress, satsumas, bananas and condensed milk for the banoffee, some different cheeses, a 45p bottle of tonic water is my Christmas tipple, unusual fruit juices ( have you ever tried Welch's white grape, apple and pear juice - it's delicious), some fresh double cream and liquerice allsorts for Col. I had a £6 off £40 spend till-voucher from Tesco that needed using before Christmas so as my Christmas extras wouldn't have come to that amount I got some of January's shop a few days early, cat food, caster sugar, butter, a few other bits and the total was enough so that I could use the voucher. My 5p savings from throughout the year paid for a nice big ham and 2 small chickens - cheaper from our butchers than one larger one of the same weight - only four people meat eating on Christmas day so it would have been stupid to have had anything bigger.

It was annoying this year to have to buy parsnips and Brussels sprouts, our parsnips are about the size of a small golf ball and are rotting in the ground, while the B sprouts had a bad attack of white fly and never recovered. I have been picking a few but such poor quality I decided to get a stalk of sprouts for £1.50 from the local nursery, while there I also bought a few large Naval oranges - my favourites and much nicer than smaller ones in Tesco.

 I always cook the ham early Christmas eve so that we can have some for dinner and then for Christmas day tea and for several days afterwards. We will eat it with pasta and leeks in a sauce, with chutney or mustard in sandwiches,with potatoes and veg and maybe with egg and chips until it's gone.

Most of our Christmas present spending is for our children and their partners. They have things from their wish lists, vouchers or  money. For sisters and brothers-in-law this year I did hampers with home made chutneys, relishes, jam, marmalade, Dundee cake, raspberry vinegar, spiced nuts and included a bottle of red wine and ingredients for making mulled wine. Col's dad also had a box with some home made and some bought bits of food. Brother had some drill-bits he wanted. Nephews and niece had money as I've no idea what they like.My main aim in all present buying is to give something useful. I hate the thought that I've given something that will be unwrapped and then donated to a charity shop at the first opportunity - and I HATE tat! I'm also equally glad when we get useful gifts - Col's brother asked us what we would like and we said pairs of pants for Col and postage stamps for me - boring to some I'm sure, but useful for us on our living-on-savings regime.

Another thought - When did it become THE thing to have smoked salmon etc for Christmas day breakfast or to stock a cupboard with every conceivable type of alcoholic drink imaginable? Neither of which we've ever done. Does drinking all that booze make you happier or just poorer?

AND finally, by special request from Jennie, here is the picture of the 26 books that made up my Christmas presents from Col, sister-in-law, son and daughter.


The crime collections on the right are new books from Book People that I bought as my present from Colin, as are the 3 by Maureen Jennings. Most of the others were purchases off my Amazon wish list ( often for 1p which is probably how I ended up with so many!), made up of books to add to collections that I've not read yet, WWII books and ideas from other blog writers. How lucky am I?. All these will come in very useful if ever we get the chance to move to our hovel in a part of the country where ordering library books isn't free.

Thanks to Mrs G, Cornelia, Sooze, Marlene Sheila, Sadie, Mrs L.H. Jennie, Jan, Deborah, My shabbychic, Tracy, Simon jamcake and KCs court for comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow
Sue
P.S. If ever I should mention in future posts how dry it is in Suffolk and how difficult to get things to grow, please remind me about the poor folk of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria where Christmas and New year and several months of 2016 have been and will be completely ruined by the days of continuous rain and flooding. I'm not sure anyone can prepare for that extreme rainfall.









29 comments:

  1. Waving hello from a soggy Oop North! The sun is out today, I'm hoping the quagmire that is my back grass might dry out a little. I'm lucky. I'm dry and my possessions are safe. Those poor people who have just been devastated just break my heart.
    I've overspent this year, not by loads, but the takeaway we had on Christmas Eve was an out of budget spend. The shop made pannacotta although in vouchers, was an overspend. But I'm not sorry! Totally unrepentant!
    I cannot believe the pressure some people put themselves under, going into massive massive debt to provide over the top Christmasses, giving stuff that people don't need etc.
    The human race is a strange one indeed! Have a lovely day Sue. I wonder how long those books will last - 26 books could be one book per two weekends to take you up to next Christmas!! Could you bare to put one down?!!

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    1. Thank goodness you are not too soggy, I can't imagine the mess that they will have to clear up when it eventually stops raining.
      Seeing as I read over 100 books this year, this lot will only last a few months! but while we've still got access to free book ordering at the library, I shall save these for the future.

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  2. We also have come in under budget this year on our Christmas spend both giftwise and food wise. Nothing has gone on a credit card so I am very happy about that. None of the turkey or ham will be wasted and we just have a small piece of beef for today.
    Oooooh look at all those books....how lovely-x-

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    1. The Amazon wish list is such a good idea, makes it easy for everyone to know exactly what to buy. i'm so lucky

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  3. I'm with you there, Sue, on the huge amounts spent on drink. We hardly drink at all but don't feel we're missing out. We were given Cava to have with our Christmas lunch by our son and his fiancé, and I just bought a bottle of port as I use that in trifle (better flavour than sherry for a trifle - I really prefer Marsala or Madeira, but I didn't find it in Waitrose and I wasn't prepared to search and search, so grabbed port instead.) But I wouldn't have put watercress into the luxury spending bracket. I buy this (not the stuff that's all chopped up and goes manky the moment you open the packet) but John Hurd's bunches of watercress, and I make soup with it. You can get four good portions of soup from a bunch of watercress and with bread and some cheese you have a meal. It's also iron-rich and therefore Good For You.
    However, while I hate tat as much as you do, I do like to give little luxuries for presents, so bought pretty diaries (useful and luxurious)for our sons' partners, plus some notelets which from a company which put "A Note from ...." and then a personalized name. Not too expensive, and useful, but also a bit of luxury.
    I was amazed at the book collection! I've not had a single book as present, but people know that the chances of finding a book I haven't already got or read (in the categories that I like) is slender.
    As for the weather, it's horrendous and I do feel for anyone who has been flooded. Can't understand why rivers are no longer dredged. Also, Holland is flat but we don't hear about flooding there so how do they manage their excess water - it must rain there, surely? Husband says they don't have hills and mountains for it to 'run off', but the same volume of water must land on the ground?
    My best buy this Christmas: a Thinsulate pull-on woolly hat (in anticipation of cold weather once the rain stops!) for husband for around £2.30 on Amazon. Excellent value and an excellent product! In fact, we seldom give presents to each other, we feel no need as we both know we love each other and there's no point in spending just for the sake of it.
    Margaret P

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    1. I've not seen proper bunches of watercress anywhere around here for years which is why I don't often buy it as, like you say, the bags don't have much in and don't last.
      The notelets sound nice, I had some like that as a gift from the States once.
      We've got Thinsulate hats too, they last forever although mine is fleece rather than wool.

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    2. The Thinsulate 'hat' is fleece lined. Very good value. The notelets came from www.madebyellis.com and they were here within two days. I have some and I chose their typewriter design. I have now ordered some more, I like them so much and the first lot will be used for my Christmas thank-you notes. But as I don't have "thank you" on them, I can use them for any kind of note.
      Margaret P

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  4. My Christmas spending was parsimonious compared to some, all the family had a quilt, mostly made from the stash, I did have to buy some thread though. The most expensive buy was Francesca's posh cardigan from Laura Ashley, but that was from the sale shop in Swansea and half price. I had 3 books, 1 from my swap partner and 2 from Fran. The Kitchen Diaries 3 from Nigel Slater and More-With-Less from the Mennonites. No alcohol at all, nobody missed it and nobody needed paracetamol for breakfast.

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    1. One of your beautiful quilts must be the very best present I think.

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  5. Our family decided to cut the excess this year, presents smaller and useful (nothing will be set aside for Charity shops) and nibble and treats were also cut back, we still have too much, we had just one bottle of wine with our meal, so like you a simple but very happy Christmas. I am following the news, so terrible for the north, we have family on Somerset levels, so we understand their plight, and really hope the farmers come together again and save the animals.

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    1. I "make" the children bring their own drinks on Christmas day if they want what we don't buy- we got given a bottle of red wine so they had that and brought beer/cider for the rest of the day ( that was the son and D-in-law to be staying over) the youngest and OH went onto friends so didn't drink much here any way.

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  6. very little spent here, I am doing one of our hams tomorrow, a joint of lamb for today, I got a lovely new Bee suit off hubby socks wellies etc from family all useful gifts :-)

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    1. I love useful gifts(or books, which are Very Useful in my opinion!) I've made the chicken carcass and bits into pies today

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  7. Well. yeah. I agree. While I absolutely believe people have the right to celebrate how they see fit - and if spending lots is their thing, get on with it - I couldn't help but feel a little sickened when in the supermarkets earlier this week. Trolleys were groaning, almost buckling under the weight. I looked at some of them and thought 'how much of that will you end up chucking out?' they were just full of CRAP. I'm saying this as a total shopaholic, I love to shop, but even I can see when people are just going berserk.
    People were dithering, on mobile phones, looking flustered, in a panic. I just wanted to grab some of them and shout 'CALM DOWN'. shelves were bare, people were tetchy. Horrible.
    I could hear the Grinch in my head shouting 'The Avarice never ends'. So true.
    I did most of my 'stocking up' if you can call it that over the weeks. So really, haven't actually bought much in the way of extras. Our Christmas is always paid for, no debt here. I learnt that lesson the hard way before I met Bill, who is one very sensible chap.

    Nothing to go to charity shops here either. Violet had all that she wanted and I know she'll play with. Bill had stuff I know he wanted. Same with me. The power of the glitter sprinkled montage! ;o)

    And now it's all over for another year!
    xx

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    1. We went to Aldeburgh yesterday and the sales were on in Joules, Fat face etc, It was PACKED with people shopping like mad, still plenty of money around there!

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  8. I have long given up on the stocking up for a siege days for, at the end of it all, it is only two days not two months. I buy in a few simple treats and make a bit of an effort over Christmas dinner, but that's about it. Two days of over indulgence is one and a half days too many now. I wish I could convince well meaning friends and relatives that I do not need more boxes of chocolates, tins of biscuits, and bottles of wine. Mum is diabetic and I don't eat much sugar or drink. Not sure when they will ever listen. Now I'm sounding like a Grinch! lol
    There's only one winner at Christmas and that's all the traders.
    I confess, this is the first year in a long while that I bought cards and didn't make them, mainly because Mum is so poorly.
    My best Christmas gift this year was having Mum have a good day on Christmas Day, and after that a hand knitted scarf from one of my pen friends in America. It is just lovely.
    Gosh, sorry Sue, I've rattled on a bit today, and like you will want someone to put me back in my box if I ever complain about rain again. Now, wind is another matter ~~~ fed up of 50 mph winds for weeks and weeks. Yesterday was over 60 mph. Bah! Humbug!

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  9. Well, I am a grinch then and proud of it.
    We used to have smoked salmon for breakfast back in the seventies.
    We don't celebrate xmass but had our annual winter family meal on the 25th when everyone was on hols from work. Any leftovers went into the freezer to have over the next few months, but to be honest there wasn't much.
    How wonderful to receive all of those books. You are all set for when winter finally sets in.

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  10. Lots of reading for you there. My neighbour down the hill (no longer with us now, bless her) always had smoked salmon and champagne on Christmas morning, whilst unwrapping pressies. We had a wonderful English sparkling wine ourselves this year, I have to confess, but a treat from eldest daughter. Her sister was given several bottles of champagne so came along with one for the afternoon. I just sniffed the cork!

    We have good meat for the festival (wouldn't normally buy a duck, I must say, but it was lovely) but no two-shopping-trolleys for us!

    My Big present was a replacement wheelbarrow, as the other one had Had It. I will get a lot of use out of that!

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  11. My entire spend came to €150 plus the €20 on my loyalty card. We lacked for nothing, had a wonderful 3 kg free range Turkey, with no shortage of good wines. I saw both those TV programmes you mentioned; disgraceful, and very common!

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  12. all in all I have probably spent £800 but that was budgeted and saved for, no debt and no credit cards! it also includes all food for 9 days. Probably my best year yet, planning on reducing that to £500 next year. Have started a list of what not to buy in 2016... I have book envy!

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  13. Spending seems to have been down in our area (coastal CA) and in the U.S. in general. We've scaled back at Christmas for a few years. Not including shipping to family, which was shockingly expensive this year and we're rethinking that for future years, I came in slightly under budget overall for gifts and food. December is always challenging for us as there are 9 birthdays and 2 anniversaries in addition to Christmas and New Years. Shopping/planning throughout the year helps immensely! Hope you have a wonderful holiday week and that 2016 brings all good things your way.

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  14. Merry Christmas to you and yours! I can't really comment on how we saved money this year because we do still treat our two children at Christmas time, and son's birthday comes very close after Christmas, so need to "save" something to give to him on his birthday, too. I was looking at your books and saw Sue Grafton there. I just finished reading "X" and enjoyed it very much.
    Our Christmas dinner was a stuffed turkey and various vegetables to go with that. I also made a pumpkin pie. We always enjoy the leftovers for a couple of days afterward. (Had them last night, in fact). -Jenn

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  15. We had less than half of what I used to buy many moons ago, but we still have plenty, that Eat Well for less really annoyed me.
    You are going to be busy with your books, I have to confess I am a book sniffer, I love the smell of a new book and the pages.

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  16. The Ruth Mott book is a good one. We have a copy at work as she used to be the cook there for many years when the Iliffe family still owned the house. She only died a couple of years ago and used to come to our Christmas events. The others all look good too! xx

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  17. We have a very quiet and lovely Christmas now that the x is gone.
    No strife just great fun.
    Since we are very few, with no little ones it is very quiet.
    We make as many gifts as we can or if we do buy any it has to be something to eat, plant or use. We cook on Christmas Eve, Daughter and Son and lots of laughter. Then have a nice dinner. The dinner this year, was duck because we had some in the freezer. We used to warm up the leftovers (so good) for Christmas Day dinner all fun and no must.
    Now we have a brunch/lunch on Christmas and open up our gifts.
    We rarely eat desert so this year we made cookies, yum, were made and a crumble is in the freeze. Which we still haven't eaten.
    Best Christmas Eve and Day. I like our new tradition.
    I loved looking at all your books. Must check out some of your choices.

    cheers, parsnip


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  18. You have done very well not only in your food spending but also presents. I got some lovely things as well!

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  19. We spend very little at Christmas for the main meal because to us it is just another roast dinner, we don't drink or smoke so we have nice biscuits and box chocolates instead. Presents, I ask eldest son what he wanted, this year he came back with something fun, so he and middle son and youngest, and their wives had a good quality compendium of games. Grand children had pyjamas, and puzzles and colouring books as they are still quite young.
    Julie xxxxx

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  21. I save throughout the year and buy bits and pieces as I go so Christmas is all paid for thank goodness. I hate the thought of buying something which may just end up being given away, I really try and put some effort into the gifts.
    Lisa x

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