Gift Manipulation and Spending Beyond Your Means

The best gift you can give someone at Christmas is your time.

This is especially true in a time where if you’re not busy all the time and on the go constantly, you’re perceived to not be working hard enough or  not doing enough. When we meet up with friends and family it’s-

“hey how’ve you been?”
“Yeah me too! So busy!”

… busy isn’t how YOU are though is it and it does not equal productivity or a good use of your time…

This time of year SO many people spend beyond their means and buy presents people don’t even end up using. Or another scenario is you feel bad because the value of your presents exchanged is evidently different so the next year you HAVE to spend more through guilt and apprehension of it happening again….

I’m about to speak very honestly about how I’m feeling about christmas, gifting and why.

Last year I was manipulated into spending around 4-5x more on my significant other than they did…. the conversation went something like:
Them– “ how much are you planning on spending?”  
Me: ” Oh I don’t know, why how much are you planning on spending?”
Them: “About £500”
Me: “really?!”
Them: “yeah!”
Me: *in my head* Shit i need to up my game..

It was a lot of money, but the conversation was a normal conversation right? You’re probably thinking – Char that’s not manipulation… and you’d be right, it’s what happened next that made it manipulative.

So then the budget was set. I DID up my game. I bought bigger, I bought better. I bought presents to open Christmas day, I bought a trip to take them away. Did I really have that much to spend on one person at that point in my life, probably not no, but I felt I had to because they were, aside from the fact we’d only been together a few months AND I’d just gone big for their birthday.

So when Christmas came around, so did disappointment. Now, I’m not into material things, I recently sold my Apple Watch because that could be money better spent but when you’ve been told you’re receiving around £500 worth of gifts and what you receive is >£100 you’re left disappointed. Disappointed in yourself for expecting more, BUT I think what i was most disappointed in was the realisation that I’d been manipulated for their gain. I hadn’t really experienced that before and maybe I was naive in trusting, I don’t know. Now don’t get me wrong even £100 is a lot to spend so I am not ungrateful, nor am I spoilt, that’s not the message here. (For the last few years, my sister and I haven’t exchanged gifts we’ve instead set aside a day to spend together doing something we really want to do and just enjoy the time uninterrupted.) The message is around the manipulation to spend far more on them than they ever planned to spend- and notice how it was them who initiated the original conversation anyway.

I did bring it up with them at a later date. When I questioned it, they said it was “banter”.

Manipulation. Is. Not. Banter.

I guess this year I just feel a bit funny about Christmas. People ask me what I want for Christmas and I don’t know. The whole thing around buying presents this year, I’d just rather not- I’d rather people just spoilt Bonnie (my puppy) instead. Do I love buying gifts and treating people? absolutely but this year my excitement or ‘festive cheer’ comes not from gifts, but from looking forward to spending time with people I love. I have a generous Christmas holiday entitlement from work so I can enjoy a good break where before as a freelancer and self employed, I’d feel anxious taking more than a couple of days off.

Even more recent events have also just taught me that life is way too precious and our time together is worth so much more than any gift that could be bought.

It is hard, I know, but I strongly encourage you to try and not spend outside your means. Your company is worth far more so maybe arrange a date you can get together with friends and family that you’ve been meaning to see for so long.

People will remember the effort you made to see them, more than the present you can’t afford that you sent them in the post.

Now go and tell someone you love them xx

Am I Adulting yet?

When I was growing up I kinda had this idea that you’re an adult as soon as you turn 18 and by the time you’re mid twenties you’d probably be in that life long relationship, have your life long career job, own your own place and definitely have your shit together.

You then turn 18 and realise you’re definitely not an adult yet and still need to run a sick day past your mum…

I went to uni at 19, a year later than most. No, I didn’t have a ‘gap yah’ … I spent the year working three jobs to afford to go to university; teaching p.e, retail and hospitality. I definitely felt older than the 18 year olds coming straight from school. Okay so three years pass at uni, you’re definitely feeling more independent. But an adult? not yet.

I graduated with a First Class degree in Dance and wanted to pursue a career in performing. Life had other plans. 4 months after graduating and I had my second heart operation and lived at home with my parents for a year. I worked in an admin role because I couldn’t do anything physical fro a while. I resented it because it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing straight out of uni.

Aaaaaaanyway, a year later I moved to London to live the dream. I’d just started a dance company with a friend and I was doing TV and modelling work. As much as I now had real rent to pay to a real Landlord, i.e not my mum, I still didn’t feel like an adult. In the industry i was working in TV companies had up to 90days to pay you. So you literally had no idea when you would be paid, it could be a week later or three months later. I wouldn’t call it adulting if you don’t know when your next pay cheque is coming in.

Fast forward a few years, I’m 26 and working full time as a fitness instructor, personal trainer and fitness model. I was essentially paid to bop around with people who were paying to bop around. I worked with several brands via social media. Sounds pretty cool hey, it was. I was in my chosen career, why didn’t I feel like an adult yet?… I was still living in a house share.

When I turned 26, I was still living in a flat with FOUR other people. I still felt like a student. Later that year, after three years, I moved out of that flat and into a flat with a friend. From a 5 bed flat to a 2 bed. This felt more like adulting but not quite. I’d known her for 12 years and her parents owned the flat, she’d lived there 4-5 years or something and it very much felt like I was just living in her home. I’m not sure if that makes sense. Rather than us living there together it felt like I was just existing in her space. I wasn’t really allowed things out in the living room or anything. I remember adding some books to her shelf and stack… they didn’t last there long. They got moved and hidden… BOOKS! A year later, her parents want to sell the flat because she’s moving in with her new boyfriend. I got asked to move out via text message and I had 4 weeks to do so. Like I said, we’d known each other for 12 years…I found somewhere to live and moved out within a week. The day before I moved out, I put a bag of my belongings in the living room because my room was full of bags and cases. I went out for the evening and when I came home that bag was wedged into my room meaning I couldn’t even get to my bed now. (it was a very small room btw) It was one bag of my belongings in the living room the night before moving out and that wasn’t allowed. I won’t talk about the rest, It got nasty quick shortly after that and wasn’t dealt with in a very adult way. Needless to say we aren’t friends now. Major adulting fail.

So at 27 I found myself back in a flat share living with strangers. Something I never thought I’d do again. No living room. Just my bedroom and navigating my way around when the kitchen would be free because one of the other girls would cook allllllllllll the time. It was only a small kitchen with enough room for one person to be cooking. I ended up deliveroo-ing or staying at my boyfriend’s. I was paying £800+ pcm to not really be living there and when I was there, I couldn’t use the kitchen. This felt far from adulting.

I’m 28 now. Not living in London. Not working in the fitness industry. Not in a house share with random strangers from the internet. I feel like I’m finally having a go at this adulting thing and from here on in you’ll be joining me on that ride.