Merry Money

“Christmas is a race to see which gives out first – your money or your feet.”

So Christmas is just around the corner and recession or no recession we love to splash out during the festive season. From booze and lavish gifts, to cream laden mince pies, we can’t help wanting to basque in all that the merry season has to offer.

Although it is important to make sure that the Christmas indulgence doesn’t hit us like a tonne of bricks in mid-February, we must consider cutting the budget this year and acting reasonable with our finances…to an extent.

The annual Deloitte survey of Christmas spending predicts that Irish consumers will spend €943 this year compared to €1,020 in 2010 (that’s the highest in Europe but don’t tell the IMF). This amount is considered a reasonable cut, yet we still might have to think about how deep our pockets are.

The survey shows that of the average spend, around €520 will be spent on gifts, €258 on food and that’s not even looking at the Christmas tree or replacing broken lights and baubles (at least an extra €50).

Realistically, that figure may be a lot bigger in some households. On average, there are two adults and three children in an Irish family (not a scientific average, rather an observational one). That means that around €100 per person is spent on gifts amounting to €500 euro, which seems proportionally accurate.

However, the survey failed to include the extended family, the grandparents, the cousins and aunts that will all probably get some sort of gift, irrespective of its size. Then there is ‘secret Santa’ or that awkward ‘friend’ in work who bought everyone a gift. Thus, the budget is bumped up by at least another €200.

Food…what would Christmas be without succulent turkey, glistening potatoes and piping hot gravy. With the current prices in Irish supermarkets, one would have to put by at least €300 euro aside for food unless you’re super organised and awesome at staking out bargains. Let’s face it, most of us are the ‘day before’ shoppers, desperately trying to shove by others to get that last packet of brussels sprouts.

Despite our bank accounts shrinking at a rapid pace, we never forget to put some money aside for parties, because after all the Christmas season is encapsulated by having fun. Deloitte calculated that an average €165 will be spent on socialising, a figure which could be debatable if new outfits are purchased.

For the employed, there’s always that huge event – the work Christmas party. Most companies go out of their way to ensure that their staff reap the rewards of the festive season. Some companies do this by covering the majority of the party costs and supplying some free food and alcohol to staff. However, we still have to take into account the cost of ‘essentials’ such as additional alcohol, the taco chips we crave at 4am and the taxi fare home.

Even if you don’t attend a work Christmas party there will be plenty of other celebrations, including New Years festivities, which are sure to burn a hole in your wallet.
Interestingly, according to SuperValu, consumers will purchase a staggering 110,000 poinsettia plants from their chain alone. Hence, it is clear that we Irish love our Christmas plants.

If we look at the average Christmas budget from a student’s perspective; out of a budget of around €900, we generally don’t have to buy food and we will spend about €300 on presents, which leaves…over €500 for alcohol – the definition of a very merry christmas.

 Zofia Domaracka

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