North West Wales

Family Christmas on a budget

Stuart and Louise Hall
Image caption Stuart Hall has found full-time work but wife Louise says money will still be tight this Christmas

Louise Hall is 29, married to Stuart and lives in Porthmadog. She has one son, Joshua, who's just turned four. Her husband has just started a full time job, his first for many years. Even so, Louise says they're still facing Christmas on a budget.

We do a big shop once a week usually - we buy things like cleaning materials monthly but food shopping we tend to do weekly.

We can spend anything from £40 to £60 depending on what sort of things we're buying, whether there's any special offers on, that sort of thing.

We do have to budget for it - there's no doubt about it.

If we had an endless pit of money it would be great but we haven't unfortunately, so we do have to budget and only buy things we need rather than things we want - we can't afford to do that.

Shopping around

We start Christmas shopping usually around the end of September, little bits and pieces that come into the shops.

We have to shop around - you can pay a lot of money. A friend of mine bought her son something for Christmas a few weeks ago from someone's catalogue, then she went into a different shop and found it was £20 cheaper.

My friend's on benefits so that's a big saving for her - she could buy probably four or five more toys for that amount of money.

Buying toys for a four year old can get quite expensive if you let it, so you have to be quite creative in what you buy to make the presents look like more than what you'd spent.

To be honest, Josh has been playing with cardboard boxes more than toys just lately while we've been getting the Christmas decorations out.

Rainy day

My husband having a full-time job now is definitely a bonus. It does mean that we can afford a few more things but as he's only just started he's not getting overtime just yet.

Once he does start to see that, we will be able to afford more things but at the same time we're not going to go stupid because we know we need to save for a rainy day so to speak, and we've had a few of those just recently.

We need to be able to put something aside in case anything happens in the future.

Around here you're very lucky if you get a full-time permanent job that lasts all the way through and not just seasonal.

A lot of people just do what they can, when they can.

A fair few of my friends have actually had to save quite a lot during the summer while they've been working.

Thankfully we're not in that position now but we have been in the past when we've worked in the tourist industry.

It can get pretty dire in the winter especially if you do have to go onto benefits - you really don't get enough money to be able to buy Christmas presents for the children.

We're fortunate that Josh is small - he's not interested in getting the latest brand of trainers.

I do worry about the future, and the fact that he's going to want bigger and better toys as he gets older, things that his friends have got, possibly things that are out of our price range.

Obviously we're not going to give in to all his demands but there are a few things he is going to want as he gets older that we will have to save a lot of money for.

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