Lizzie sets course for a tat-free Christmas

A throwaway line on a TV show offers a money-saving tip Lizzie would never have thought of. Not only will it work for her family’s expense management, but she even suggests it for husband Ollie as a good tip in expense management for small businesses

“That is so right,” said Lizzie, pointing at the TV screen. “It’s the best piece of advice I’ve heard in ages, and we shall take it up.”

Ollie looked up from his iPad and the Aston Villa fan web site. “Who?” he asked. “What?”

“Him,” said Lizzie, sitting on the edge of her chair and pointing at the TV screen. “Martyn Lewis. TV money-saving expert and general all-round wise man.”

Ollie shook his head. “We’re not getting another mortgage, or changing energy supplier, or anything like that,” he said. “Too much time and trouble.”

Lizzie put her knuckles on her hips, turned down the corners of her mouth, and pushed her eyebrows towards her hairline. Ollie called it ‘The Look’ and said so. “You’re giving me the look,” he said.

“Got it in one, Banks, but I think we could spend more time shopping around for stuff. But this isn’t about that. It’s about Christmas.”

“Oh, if he’s told us how to make that cheaper, then I’m up for it,” said Ollie, setting aside his iPad.

Why we all get tat
“Well, he has. It’ about tit-for-tat giving. You know, we have to buy them something because they’ll buy us something – and they’re only buying us something because we’ll buy them something. Pointless and expensive. It’s not as though we need any more ‘stuff’; we’re up to our knees in it anyway. And that’s the point. As he says, tit-for-tat giving means you end up with more tat.”

Ollie, feeling the strain on his bank balance beginning to ease, agreed at once. “And it’s not as though the world needs and more tat, especially the plastic kind. But I suppose you just get caught up in it, and although Christmas comes but once a year, you get sort of trapped in the preparations, and end up throwing money at it.”

“Not this year,” said Lizzie. “We shall tell all the tit-for-tatters not to bother, and we’ll set up some sort of pact between us all. We’ll save money, and we can spend it on…”

Ollie cut in. “Stop right there. Stop spending money we haven’t got yet, that we’ve just decided we couldn’t afford to spend in the first place. You’re undoing all the good you’ve done in the last two minutes.”

Alice wants a pony
“Hold your horses, Banks. What I was going to say was that we could avoid spending money on mountains of presents Alice and Jack don’t need, and do something worthwhile with it. Here’s the plan. Alice wants a pony…”

“Are you out of your mind?”

“…Alice wants a pony, and we’re certainly not wealthy enough to afford to buy her one, but we could adopt one at the home of rest for horses, and we can visit it at the weekends. That way we give money to charity AND buy a present at the same time. How’s that for effective use of our money?”

“And not a bit of tat in sight.” Ollie couldn’t fail to agree. “What’s more, we’d have fewer presents for the children cluttering up the place. I’m sure they get overwhelmed with it all anyway. Let’s set limits on the number of presents that get bought for them. We could share the love and buy some for children who wouldn’t get a gift otherwise. Result!”

“More than that, Banks, you should take the idea to work. How many calendars and other stuff do you give out, and get given? It’s the same principle. You should invest money in worthwhile things, not just random stuff that people don’t really need. How’s that for effective expenses management?”

Picture: Santos 06 | Dreamstime