Welcome to the MoneyPlus Newsletter.
Now that Halloween is safely behind us, and a second national lockdown is well underway, it’s time that we start paying attention to the next big event of (what’s left of) the year – Christmas.
We know it’s only the beginning of November, but we’ve been warned that an influx of online shopping could mean that there are backlogs at some of our favourite stores, so it’s wise to get in early…
We also know that Christmas planning can be incredibly stressful (especially in the midst of a global pandemic) and so we want to give you some helpful tips on how to get through this festive season with a bit of ease, and within your financial limits…
How to (mentally and financially) get through Christmas.
Gift-giving takes on new connotations once you’re expected to give as much as you get. It can feel daunting having to spend so much money on so many people – especially if you’re living on a tight budget.
But Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be a financial headache. There are plenty of ways to minimise holiday expenses – you just have to be willing to try something new.
If you’re looking for ways to cut back this holiday season, here are some of our go-to methods…
Probably the most obvious choice when deciding to reign in Christmas spending, but not always the easiest to stick to. Festive spending often goes overboard when you fail to reconcile your budget with your shopping list.
To avoid overspending, determine how much you can afford to spend on Christmas and then make a list of all your holiday obligations, including presents, travel, and decorations. Then, estimate how much each item will cost.
Once you’ve got your list (and checked it twice), you can move on to the next step…
Become a bargain hunter.
Unlike budgeting, which is often easier said than done, bargain hunting simply requires basic access to the internet, and a list of all the presents that you’re hoping to purchase.
All you need to do is type in the name of the gift into Google, and voila! You’re awash with various sites offering competitive deals, sometimes at bargain prices.
Flash sale days, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, are great for catching a last-minute bargain, but beware – some stores use these days as tactics to get rid of some of their older, down-market stock, and sometimes, the sales that you see on Black Friday aren’t always the best deals out there, so remain vigilant in your search!
Look for discount codes.
Sites and site extensions (like Honey) search the internet for coupon codes while you shop, so you can always snag the best deals!
Websites like TopCashback also come in handy, providing cashback on purchases made through the site for thousands of retailers.
Sign up for a store’s newsletter.
Sometimes, when you first sign up to a store’s email newsletter, you’ll receive an email with a discount for your first purchase (usually around 10%). However, this does mean that you’ll need to supply them with your email address, so make sure that you only sign up to those stores that you’re genuinely interested in hearing from.
Alternative gift ideas.
If you have a special skill, such as woodworking, knitting, or graphic design, consider giving that as your present instead. The sentimental value will be much higher than whatever you’d find in a high-street store, and it will be especially precious to the receiver.
Other low-budget gift ideas include baked goods (or anything edible, really), homemade soaps/bath salts, and beverages. Things like these always get used, are often less expensive, and won’t take up much space in someone’s home.
Another popular alternative is to do a gift exchange instead of buying each person a present. Draw names and set a price limit, such as £20. That’s enough to buy a decent gift (or two) without ruining your holiday budget. This is perfect for big families, where gift-giving can get pricey once spouses and children come into the mix. Some families even decide to skip presents for adults and only buy gifts for the kids.
A stress-free Christmas.
For many, Christmas is a favourite time of the year – a time when we put life on hold to spend time (and money) celebrating with friends and family.
However, it’s because we care so much about Christmas that we often build up certain expectations of how it should be. But how do you manage Christmas when the family might not be able to all be together under the same roof? And how do you keep the whole family happy, while also managing to have a calm and healthy holiday yourself?
Plus, if you’re spending this Christmas in the comfort of your own company, you may be tempted to compare your situation with that of what you see on social media, which can be mentally straining.
The solution is two-fold: managing other people’s expectations whilst making sure you look after yourself in the process. Below is an essential guide to having a calm, healthy festive period, in the event that Christmas is able to go ahead without restrictions:
1. Prioritise close relationships.
If we make this top of the list, the rest should fall into place. If meeting in person isn’t an option, arrange a virtual chat with those who you would’ve otherwise spent Christmas with, or even those who you are close with but haven’t seen in a while. A Christmas well-wishing is a lovely way to catch up with those who are important to you.
2. Take a load off.
If you feel you ‘must’ do certain things (make everything from scratch, host Christmas for the whole family), perhaps it’s time to ask if someone else in the family is able to host this year, with your help in supplying alternative provisions. If it’s just your immediate household that you’re spending Christmas with, you can use this as an opportunity to delegate, and get the whole house involved (e.g. one person is in charge of the roast potatoes, another in charge of the veggies, etc.).
3. Have a Christmas brainstorm.
You can’t please everybody, but sometimes we think we know what everyone wants without checking. Gather the family together and ask them to write down one thing they’d like to do over Christmas, and one tradition they’d like to drop. You may find everyone would like to eat out on Christmas Day, or set a price limit on gifts.
4. Think about what you really want to do.
Don’t be frightened to change traditions. It’s OK to suggest alternate activities for Christmas – such as having a Christmas clear-out of old clothes that you don’t wear anymore and donating them to charity, or simply curling up with that book you’ve been meaning to get stuck into.
5. Take a break before the 25th.
We tend to be exhausted by the time we actually make it to Christmas Day. You’re more likely to feel stressed or low if you’re tired, so if you can, get ahead and take a day off to relax before the big day.
6. Think ‘big picture’.
If you find yourself feeling stressed from having too many people around (even virtually), or lonely from not having enough, remind yourself what you’re grateful for about your life in general. Think of the bigger picture, and try to stay away from social media as much as you can – other people’s depictions of their ‘perfect’ Christmas may be far from reality, and could cause you to feel inadequate about your own situation.
7. Have some me-time.
Making some time during the day to do something on your own is essential, especially for those who can feel exhausted by all that Christmas has to offer. Go for a brisk walk, have a long bath, or find a quiet corner to do a mindfulness exercise.
1 Man, 3 Counties, 100 Miles
He did it! Our very own Commercial Director, Jonathan Mills, took on a mammoth challenge last month, all to raise much needed funds for our cherished Manchester Youth Zone.
Jonathan battled treacherous ascents and speedy straights as he cycled 100 miles in just over 7 hours in a circular route that saw him start and finish at the Youth Zone in Harpurhey.
The route crossed through Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Lancashire, with all proceeds from his hearty challenge going directly to the Manchester youth Zone.
Jonathan smashed his original target of £2,500, and ended up raising an amazing £3,067!
If you didn’t already know, the MoneyPlus Group supports the Manchester Youth Zone every week through its Dress Down for a Pound Fridays, in which all staff members have the option to come to work in casual attire in exchange for a £1 donation to the Youth Zone.
We also regularly host events to help our staff support the local community, such as annual Christmas gift donations, and our very successful 2.6 Challenge (each of our participating staff members donated money to take part in their own challenges that incorporated the numbers 2 and 6, such as running 2.6 miles, or doing 26 star jumps!)
Meet the Team.
Jo Robertson – Director of Operations for Energy
Jo says: “I first joined MoneyPlus in 2018, after many years within the energy industry. It was refreshing to be a part of a new energy company that was, and still is, so committed to complete transparency and excellent customer service. It’s what we’ve always been about, and I think that marks a real difference in what other customers might expect from some of the larger energy companies.”
“Not only this, but working within a wider Group that is intertwined with such varied markets and diverse industries, from financial advice to legal services, means that no day is ever the same, and it allows us to really grow our energy brand and help reach a lot more people who could benefit from the many fantastic services that we provide.”
Review of the month.
We love reading our customer reviews – and showing them off to the world!
This month’s review comes from a very valuable MoneyPlus Energy customer.
Take a look…
In case you didn’t know, every Friday is #FeedbackFriday on our social media, so if you’d like to see more great reviews, head over to our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!
If you’d like to leave a review for us, head over to our Reviews.io page – we can’t wait to read it!
We like to keep our followers up-to-date with the latest industry news, advice, and offers, so we highly recommend following our social media channels so you can stay in the know…
We’ve partnered with Bloom & Wild for the whole of 2020 to give 5 of our social followers a monthly chance to win a free bouquet! To be in with a chance to win November’s bloom, just do the following:
1. Like our Facebook page
2. Then share our latest Bloom & Wild post with the hashtag #12MonthsOfBloom.
Simple! (Don’t forget to set your shared post to ‘public’, otherwise we won’t be able to see who shares it!)
Winners will be announced at the beginning of next month, so stay tuned to our social to see if you’ve won. (T&C’s apply – https://bit.ly/2uhOyZx).
Live Better Blog.
Did you know that we publish a monthly blog, detailing need-to-know updates and advice about the world of personal finance?
We also post positive stories, and hints & tips to help you live better, every day.
Take a look at our latest blog post that lifts the lid on the extended financial support that’s being offered throughout this second lockdown.
Here for you.
If your personal circumstances have changed, or if you find yourself struggling to manage your finances, give us a call on 0161 837 4000, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll help you find the best solution to get you back on track.