How to make your pension stretch this festive season

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With everything from food to petrol prices on the rise, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make it to month end with cash in the bank. And with the festive season upon us, and gifts and family gatherings to consider, wallets everywhere are taking strain. Wondering what you can do to see your pension safely through the festive season? Follow these simple strategies.

1. Set a budget
It may seem obvious, but without a limit in place, it can be difficult to reign your spending in. Finance author Dave Ramsey has this to say on the topic, “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” And it’s true, isn’t it? Without one in place, you’re likely to spend the rest of the holidays looking at your bank statements, trying to figure out where you went so wrong. What’s more, you’ll start the new year on the back foot financially, which is the last place you want to be.

2. Give a gift from the heart
Presents don’t need to cost the earth to make a lasting impression. As Mother Teresa so wisely said, “It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” So, instead of splashing out on expensive gifts this year, give ones that require a little time and some effort. For example, if you love cooking or baking, why not make a few batches of biscuits or jars of jam for your friends and neighbours. Or, if you have grandchildren, how about inviting them to spend a morning baking or crafting with you? There are thousands of ideas for homemade gifts online, so get Googling!

3. Spread the love
With most people having to cut back to some extent these days, it’s entirely acceptable (and expected) to ask those you’ve invited for lunch or dinner to make a contribution to the meal, whether that means bringing their own drinks or making a side dish or dessert. A friendly word of advice: Ask your guests to bring along something they enjoy making rather than something that’s a chore to put together.

4. Be generous with your time
What do you do if your finances are putting paid to your generosity and you simply can’t afford to contribute to the season’s celebrations financially? Give of your time instead by helping to prepare a family lunch or dinner, offering to look after your grandchildren so their parents can go gift shopping, or volunteering for a local charity.