There was a time in my life when Christmas was everything. A childhood when I was practically tucked into the handbags of my aunts as we scouted through Balogunmarket for the ugliest, frilly gowns (those types with puffed sleeves), and also made the popular ‘Bob Marley’ braids at local saloons; an experience that almost always resulted in boils from the tightness of the hair braider’s grip. Then, and more importantly, the tirelessly binging and obtaining of ‘money for Christmas’ from exasperated relatives. Christmas used to be my favourite time of the year. But now, it is just not funny.
Just the other day, a concerned friend asked why I had a frown on my face shortly after reading a text message. A frown, by the way, which persisted for an entire weekend. Naturally, I couldn’t find the right words to explain my annoyance at the consistently dwindling figures in my account. I mean, it’s like you get some money paid and suddenly, all the needs you buried with your ancestors begin to resurrect. Then add the plight of the Nigerian situation. Ridiculous exchange rates, queues all over town, rise in prices of basic commodities (even the orange seller in my area pleads dollar rise when selling his goods now.) Basically, things are just hard in this country. I don’t even care who you are or where you are coming from, if things are not hard for you it’s probably because you are one of those making things hard for the rest of us.
Low Budget Christmas
Anyway, precisely last week, I was planning my budget which generally entails panicking on how to sort ALL my financial commitments, and it occurred to me that everyone was probably going through the same thing, and that most people would feel pressured by the financial responsibilities that come with Christmas spending. So I have decided to share 6 ways you could curb your Christmas spending and save some money for the New Year.
Make a List of Your January Expenses. Nothing quite buttresses the foolishness of Christmas spending like the sudden poverty that comes upon you in January. Suddenly you remember you have school fees, rent and other bills to pay, but only after you have squandered everything on shopping the month before. But if you make a list of the expenses you have in January and read it to yourself each time the impulse to spend comes, you will at least remind yourself that life exists after the holidays.
Switch Off Phones and Devices. This is a season of phone calls. People will call you from the village; cousins who were practically born in 2012 will call to ask for pocket money to go back to school. Your Muslim mechanic will need a gift from you and will clearly demand same via text message. Even your friends who mean well will want to fix a schedule of activities this season, activities that will require you to spend money. You must resist temptation. Switch off your phones and every other device on which you can be reached.
Become Vegetarian: Because meat and fish will kill you. But more importantly, because half of the money you will spend on feeding will be on meat, chicken and all the likes. So tell yourself you are simply following a healthier lifestyle. The point is, going this route will not just save you money, it will save your life (Although come to think of it, it does not exactly save you from Nigerian casualties like death from the army or even witches and wizards.) Still, go green!
Run away: Go on a personal retreat and reduce the possibilities of visitors. Note. If you are Igbo, do not go to the east, it is a money milking trap. The idea is to stay where no one knows you or can ask you for money. Use the opportunity to meditate on your life and how to make more money to dash out. Or just use the opportunity to rest. After all, the stress of living in this country is too much.
Binge on Movies and Books: This is a personal favorite and from experience, I can tell you that the holidays will be over before you know it. It will keep you so busy you won’t even think of what you are missing outside.
Stay Indoors. We all know events around this period are really for people who have made Christmas hair or bought Christmas clothes or have shiny new Christmassy things to display. But if you stay indoors, no one would notice that the latest wardrobe item you have was purchased around summer.