Former years have seen rises in personal wealth (or the illusion of it), with rises in share markets and property prices but 2010 saw mostly rises in unemployment and dramatic rises in interest rates. Two of the Big Four banks raised their interest rates higher than the Reserve Bank; time to vote with your feet, Australia!
Considering that the festive holiday season (regardless of your religious beliefs) was originally said to be all about Jesus, we can always claim to be following biblical precedent when we are frugal at Christmas.
Consider that 2000 years ago, according to tradition, God gave the world a small baby who was destined to be the saviour of the world. God did not send Rambo or Chuck Norris to save the Palestinians from Roman slavery, nor did he give a billion buckets of gold. The baby in a manger was a seedling gift of hope.
In honour of this tradition, we suggest that you give a small gift that means big things will come. Spread some frugality this year and also help to spread HOPE for the New Year. 2011 just has to be better than 2010, right?
1. Blooming great gift: Consider a few packets of seeds instead of a bouquet of flowers. They are cheaper to send through the post & will grow in value over the next few months, unlike flowers which will wilt & die within a few days. Those in small apartments or units can be given something small for a window box or movable planter pots. Also consider edible treats such as fruits or vegetables. There are also many species of flowers which are safe to eat, such as chrysanthemums, roses, daisies and more; check with the nursery and deliver something beautiful, tasty and practical!
2. Handmade Gifts: homemade jams and other homemade baked goods from the talented ladies and something creative from the talented blokes. Recycle some old household goods or get carving, whittling, gluing or wiring. Nothing says Christmas love like investing your precious time (not just your money) into a gift. We once received a model aeroplane made from empty beer cans and one created from old wooden clothes pegs. Novel, fun and a good talking point.
3. Newspaper Gift Wrapping: Wrap children's birthday gifts in old comics for a fun twist. A fancy red ribbon would go nicely with black and white newsprint for adults, or even "brown paper packages tied up with string" for a “Mary (Poppins) Christmas”.
4. Christmas Presence: Giving someone your time is a very valuable thing and memories last a long time. You could give a couple the gift of a night off by babysitting their kids, or you could pack a picnic basket for a single friend to have an afternoon together chatting and drinking wine in an unusual location. Most mums would love an hour of housework done while they relax in the bath and dad would love for his car to be cleaned or shed tidied.
Whatever you decide, keep it simple, practical and keep the love central to your theme. Holiday seasons are all about spending time with family, friends and loved ones, not spending money for the profits of big banks, toy companies and retail stores.
Jeremy Britton is an independent wealth adviser. For more tips, tricks & advice go to www.24hourwealthcoach.com. Article also featured in Strike publications, Ipswich City News