Help! I think I've got... a money hangover?

·5-min read
Photo credit: Marina Petti - Getty Images
Photo credit: Marina Petti - Getty Images

Ohhh yes, my nails look lovely. I hold my hand out to inspect the green sparkles that adorn my finger tips – I paid extra to get tiny Santas and Christmas trees painted on them. It’s only 20 quid more, right? And it’s Christmas, money doesn’t really count at Christmas does it?

But I did also get my hair done the other week. I love a festive hairdo. Highlights always cost so much more than I remember. I nearly fainted as I got my card out to pay – defs over the contactless amount. And at the weekend, I bought a bottle of champagne to drink with my mates. We might not see each other for aggggges? And another lockdown feels like it’s looming. And it’s Christmas, isn’t it? Oh god, who do I think I am? But we’ve all had a really horrendous time. I can treat myself and everyone I love. Can't I?

As I take a sip of the (expensive) bubbles, my phone vibrates. It’s my husband, “Oops might have spent more than planned on our Christmas online shop, but also bought some extra bits, in case there’s a lockdown…” My stomach lurches, I look down at the new skirt I’m wearing. I wanted some fancy new Christmas outfits. But, should I have been spending that money? I love it and will wear it all the time, I promise myself. It’s all wracking up, the money just keeps coming out of my account. I've taken on a millionaire mindset. I’ve easily spent at least a grand on Christmas and it’s barely even begun.

I’ve got that horrid tight feeling in my chest, like the one I used to get when I woke up with my clothes still on and wearing last night’s make-up. OMG, what have I done? It’s like a hangover, but maybe this kind is worse? The ‘Money Hang-xiety’ is real, and 41% of Brits are with me, saying they're feeling worried and anxious as they reflect on how much they’ll spend over the Christmas period, with most anticipating just over £1,000, and 72% feeling the pressure to make up for last year [stats from Barclays].

Photo credit: Marina Petti
Photo credit: Marina Petti

How to cure your money hangover

I've gathered some tips from the experts – those who actually know how to budget – to help us manage our money hangovers over the festive season…

"A lot of us get carried away during the Christmas spending season, with online shopping and IRL browsing more glittery and tempting than ever," says Zainab Kwaw-Swanzy, Millennial Finance Specialist at Barclays, who's making me feel a bit better about my overspending. "Take a step back and try to see the bigger financial picture. January can be a struggle until payday, so instead of stressing over the extra present bought here and there, use the new year to put your money into perspective."

"Spending guilt can be sky high at this time of year, especially given we're stuck indoors more than usual and it's so easy to click order," agrees financial coach Ellie Austin-Williams, who runs This Girl Talks Money. "Often, we chase the excitement of the new purchase but before we know it, the high has gone and we're back online ordering the next new thing."

Oh I feel that, I'm always at the post office, arms cradling a load of returns I don't even remember ordering. But what can we do to stop the urge to order? "Taking a break from the online world helps," advises Ellie. "We're hyper connected and the more time we spend online, the more we're bombarded with things to buy. Whether it's getting outside into the fresh air or putting your phone on silent and switching on a film, setting aside time without technology can help disconnect you from the urge to spend." You could also try curling up with a good Christmas book.

But why does "budgeting" sound like such a bore? "Really it's just a way of having a plan for your money," explains Ellie. "If you're not a spreadsheet lover, there's some great apps that can help you budget. Try a digital bank – like Monzo or Starling – which do the heavy lifting for you and give an overview of your spending in different areas of your life, so you can spot where your money is going."

Budgeting could be your new year's resolution. "Use the new year to take stock of your incomings and outgoings and celebrate the small achievements," says Zainab. "If you’re on track with your monthly payments, have a healthy rainy-day fund and stick to a rough budget, then you should be proud of the control you have. If you need help working out what you can afford to spend, try using the Barclays calculator or budget planner and split your spending into ‘needs’, ‘wants’, and ‘savings’"

Try writing a list of items you want and/or need before you click onto an online shop. "Lists keep you focused on the task in hand and remind you of what you're actually shopping for," says Ellie. "For clothes, create a mood board of your outfits so you don't end up panic buying a blue jumper when your entire wardrobe is monochrome."

Most importantly? Be kind to yourself. "What’s done is done," says Zainab. "So some of your Christmas budget has spilled onto your credit card and you’re now worried about repaying it… Christmas is naturally a time where it’s easy to splurge so don't berate yourself for overspending." You can concentrate on tackling any debt you’ve accumulated on your credit card in the new year – January is the perfect month for cosy nights in anyway...



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