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How to have a magical Christmas when flat broke

by Editorial Team
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By Alex Balimwikungu

It can be so hard to have a positive and upbeat attitude when you are struggling financially at Christmas. For many, the fear of the unknown is lurking like a vengeful ghost in many Ugandan families. However, days like Christmas cannot be postponed. In a year where COVID-19 has hit hard, where a number of hotels, clubs and recreational joints that usually make a killing in this period remain closed, where some civil servants are not sure of December pay, improvisation can come in handy.

“I have nothing to spend. I am going to stay home and chill,” a colleague told me in a troubled tone.

He had a back-up plan, albeit a tricky one. He opted for sports betting, and had a long list of ‘sure’ wins stretching for a week.

With each passing day, he ticked the sure wins. His dreams for Christmas in Zanzibar were crushed when Italian giants Napoli lost to Spezia in a must-win home game on Wednesday. He is depressed and resigned to fate.

It is all about attitude

It can be so hard to have a positive, upbeat attitude when we’re struggling and stressed by money issues. But there are also times when you have to let some things just slide. Beans do not kill. If it is beans you can afford, so be it. Let Christmas just slide. You need to take a mental journey; imagine all the times you binged on five-course meals at swanky hotels.

Those wonderful memories will keep you going even as you eat your beans on Christmas Day. If you really have a hard time accepting the reality, especially if you are the showy type, you just need to spend little money on data. Here, you will be able to litter your social media timelines with photos of exotic meals and places you’ve been to in your imaginations. If keeping up appearances is your forte, go for it.

If you are the weak at heart type, listening to sad but consoling songs can help. Pastor Wilson Bugembe has a couple of them. Songs like Kijja Kugwa come in handy.

Volunteer to work on Christmas Day

There is one thing about pride. You can still swallow it and not become fat. If you are faced with hardships, you and your family can volunteer to work on Christmas Day. Engaging in charity during the day helps. As the generous companies dole out to those in need, you work with them. It not only helps you mask your problems, but the chances that you will get a decent meal are high. Besides, the joy of knowing you were part of making some other deprived families have a joy-filled Christmas is satisfying enough.

If you are the showy type, you just need to spend little money on data. Here, you will be able to litter your social media timelines with photos of exotic meals and places you’ve been to in your imaginations

No time to act superhero

Growing up, our fathers and grandfathers were superheroes. They made it rain for days preceding Christmas. The merrymaking went on up to the New Year.  In present times, these are stories stuck in the past.  How they did it we can only imagine.

In present times, it is foolhardy to play the family superman. Whereas a great gesture to bring all the family members together is well thought, you stand to face their wrath when you feed them on conversations. The only way this works is if different families united by meager resources, pool them  and make merry. The more contributions, the merrier!

To travel or not travel

Even the relatives in the village know that things have been hard. If you don’t show up, they will understand.  Bus fare, fuel, happy relatives, angry relatives and relatives; this is just a brief list of the things you have to spend on when you to travel to the village.

Travelling to the village is now for a select few, who love to show off. You know that highway where aTundra bypasses a Range Rover before a Volkswagen Toureg bosses them and a Mpenkoni overtakes them all. Why waste your hard earned 200k on the road fattening insatiable transport fellows only to get to the village and yawn? You give the city a bad name!

Buy early, bargain

This tip may be a little late, but well, there’s next year and the one after. Before the holiday month of December, we are blessed with black Friday in November when prices drop to up to 70% off.

Take advantage of black November to purchase gifts and materials to be used over the holiday season. If you are too late, the reality is that sellers too have been hit hard and yet they need the money.  The mad rush Christmas shopping spree hasn’t been there. X-mas paraphernalia vendors are yawning.  Feel free to haggle until you are sure you have the lowest price that will not leave you grumbling.  Sad thing is that we are a nation of last-minute planning.



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