Many of us are looking forward to Christmas this year. It’s a time to celebrate and show appreciation for our loved ones - but it can also pull on the purse strings.
So, we’ve come up with a 5-step plan to help you enjoy Christmas, without breaking the bank.
1. Set a Christmas budget
We know there’s a LOT of things you could buy – like Christmas dinner, extra drinks, gifts and decorations. So, it’s best to have a think about what means the most to you and what things you could cut back on.
The first step is to set a budget. To help you do this, you’ll need to:
- List your monthly income and outgoings
- Find out your disposable income by deducting your total outgoings from your total income
- Add any savings you want to use on Christmas to your disposable income for December
It goes without saying that it’s best to spend within your means, but if you were planning to spread the cost using a credit card or overdraft, make sure you only borrow what you can afford to repay. You could also use eligibility calculators to check if you qualify for the lowest interest rates, before you apply. Plus, you won’t have to pay any interest if you clear your credit card balance before your next monthly statement.
2. Stick to your budget
It’s easy to go overboard at Christmas and sticking to a budget might sound easier said than done. So, we’ve rounded up top tips to help you stick to your plan.
Once you’ve set your budget and know what you’ve got to play with, you could:
- Prioritise what’s most important to you – whether that’s gifts for children or Christmas dinner with the family
- Make a list of family/friends you want to buy gifts for and how much you want to spend on each
- Consider using a banking app or online banking to regularly track your finances and stay disciplined
- Create a spreadsheet or even a note on your phone to keep a record of your spending and tot it up as you go
- Consider moving your Christmas spends into a separate bank account or savings account – so you can see exactly where you are up to and avoid overspending
- Unsubscribe from mailing lists to help you avoid impulse purchases
3. Compare prices online
At Christmas, there are usually lots of deals to be had, but it’s worth checking whether or not they’re affordable. If you weren’t going to purchase the item in the first place, then it could end up costing you more overall.
To make sure you’re getting the best prices, we suggest you compare the cost of food and gifts online. You could use Google Shopping for presents, as it lets you filter items based on price, as well as other factors like brand and gender for example. This tool helps you to narrow down your options until you find the perfect present.
When it comes to Christmas dinner, you could go online and research the cost of food and all the trimmings at different supermarkets. Not only could this save you money – but also time and energy too! Aim to think outside of the box instead of sticking to your normal store or brands. Consider trying supermarket own brands and see if you can tell the difference.
Having said that, if you have racked up a load of loyalty points or vouchers with a certain supermarket, it could be worth cashing in on those and putting them towards your Christmas shop.
4. Consider alternative gift ideas
If you’re trying to find more ways to cut back on Christmas gifts, then ‘secret Santa’ could be one option. All you need to do is find out if your family and/or friends are up for it, and set a maximum spend limit. Then traditionally, you all put your names into a hat and take turns to pick one out. Just don’t tell anyone who you picked – it's a secret!
In these times of social distancing, we suggest you try websites like Draw Names or Giftster to help you draw the names at random. Everyone needs to enter an email address and they’ll be notified of their gift recipient. That way you can keep the element of surprise while also keeping safe.
Secret Santa can save you money because you only need to buy one present for someone in the group. So you could make an extra effort for that one person if you feel like it, as there’s less shopping to do.
Or, you could make homemade gifts yourself. They’re sure to go down well, and it’s a fun and thoughtful way to spend your time and spread festive cheer. For example, you could bake a delicious cake or create a free calendar using your own photos for a personal touch.
For more ideas, read our article which includes 10 free and thoughtful Christmas gift ideas.
5. Try shopping in the Boxing Day sales
Non-essential shops re-opened across England on 2nd December 2020. But if you’re not seeing expecting to see certain friends or family members until after Christmas, then there’s nothing stopping you from buying their gifts in the Boxing Day sales.
These sales traditionally hit the high-street on 26th December each year. Though this year, some shops are keeping their doors closed this Boxing Day (as a thank you to their staff), including:
- Pets at Home
- Home Bargains
So, it’s best to do some research before going out. In some cases, it might work out better to stay in and shop online. You could always put your feet up, pop some Christmas music on and eat left-over turkey at the same time. Shopping in the sales is also ideal if you have something special in mind to give someone, but you want to get it at a more affordable price.
Read on for 10 ways to make money online, if you need a bit of extra cash for Christmas.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.