With less than 4 weeks to go until Christmas Day, you’re probably trying to put thoughts of money out of your mind. But there is still time to get your finances in order before Christmas, and plenty of ways to keep your festive spend under control - without being a Scrooge.
Most of us probably expect to overspend at Christmas; we seem to view it as an inevitable part of the deal. It doesn’t have to be this way! Careful planning and a little bit of discipline can go a long way towards making the festive season a bit less hard on your bank account. Whether you’ve managed to save for Christmas in advance (well done you!) or you're trying not to think about it until January, our top budgeting and money saving tips can help you to make sure you don’t break the bank this December.
Create a Budget
Creating and sticking to a budget is probably the most important thing you can do for your everyday finances. At its most basic level, budgeting comes down to three key areas:
- Knowing exactly how much is coming in and going out
- Setting realistic spending limits
- Sticking to it
Visit our Budgeting Guide for more information on creating a detailed monthly budget.
Of course, even if you stick carefully to a budget for most of the year, Christmas is going to be a little different. To avoid setting yourself up for failure, try setting a special budget for the Christmas period, allowing yourself more room to spend on things like gifts and food. This may mean that you have to cut back on other areas of your budget such as eating out and clothes shopping - but remember that Christmas is all about giving gifts to others, not yourself!
Giving your loved ones a special gift that will make their Christmas doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are our top tips for savvy Christmas shopping:
- Make a list (check it twice!) and stick to it - it’s easy to be overwhelmed in the crowds and end up choosing an expensive gift almost at random, just so you can get out of there! If you know what you’re looking for before you leave the house, you can reduce the stress and have a better chance of spotting a bargain
- Secret Santa - if you have a lot of siblings or a large group of friends and you’re fed up of simply exchanging a bottle of wine with everyone each year, why not suggest a Secret Santa? That way you can afford to buy one really thoughtful gift instead of several average ones - and you can all agree a spending limit
- Food to your door - try doing the Christmas food and drink shop online: you’ll avoid the supermarket rush as well as the temptation to buy extras that you don’t really need.
- Look out for discounts and freebies - remember that it’s the thought that counts: if the present is something they’ll really love, it doesn’t matter that you got it at half price in a clearance sale or used a voucher website!
- Get creative - if you’re feeling crafty, homemade gifts can be lovely and personal, as well as better for your bank balance
If you want to avoid a nasty shock in January - as with so many things in life - planning is key. If you can set a budget, stick to it and think carefully before you buy, you can have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.