'Tis the season

Posted in: Family Last updated: 29 Nov 2012

That first thrill of Christmas excitement – be it conjured up by the atmosphere on a cold and frosty morning, a waft of spiced fruit aroma, or a quick blast of some cheesy 80s Christmas 'classic' – is a treasured moment. No matter how old one gets, that brief joyous anticipation can still tip you back into childhood-mode for a moment.

 But once you become a parent, the momentary festive flutter can quickly be usurped by a sense of dread. The pressures on parental wallets in December can be intense with even better-off families often struggling to manage their children's expectations with what the income permits. As children get bigger, so too does the outlay associated with trying to ensure their stockings contain some of the things they want. If only Father Christmas did exist, it might make a mother's life easier!

Every year I find myself uttering the phrase 'well I'm not sure if Father Christmas will think that's appropriate for a small boy' as a way of containing expectations as the Christmas list fills up with expensive electronics, games and other such paraphernalia.

But for the financially astute parent looking to avoid the January financial hangover, there are ways of reining in the excess and making the money you spend work better for you. Shopping through cashback sites is becoming increasingly popular; in some cases you can build up a cash bonus for yourself by going via the site for internet shopping, in others, third parties can benefit like school PTAs or Brownie and Scout groups.

"Christmas is about more than just devouring chocolate and demanding the latest toys."

Another option worth considering this Christmas is KidStart, which allows parents to link their child trust funds to their account, this way the cashback you earn from shopping goes straight into your children's savings account.

Despite what our children may sometimes think, Christmas is about more than just devouring chocolate and demanding the latest toys. It's a perfect time to tap into a child's consciousness and encourage them to consider the festive period from a less fortunate child's point of view. In our house, we've adopted a yuletide tradition where each child has to pick out an unwanted item of theirs to be taken to the local charity shop, so other children may benefit from it.

And while you're there, don't forget what a treasure trove charity shops can be for stocking fillers and supplementary presents to help ease the financial load. I found this especially useful when my kids were little and didn't have any concept of whether something was in its original packaging or not. To a two-year old, as long as it's wrapped in Christmas paper, it's a Christmas present worth having.

In our internet age the options available for recycling presents and searching for second-hand offerings are even wider with Gumtree, eBay, Freecycle and so forth all proving a bountiful source of second-hand purchases to all age groups.

Written by Jane Bainbridge

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial adviser about your own circumstances.