Christmas is just around the corner and although it can bring about feelings of joy and excitement, for many it can be a time of anxiety and added stress. As well as still having to meet our regular monthly bill payments, we are expected to find extra money for gifts and food, and often days out too.
But with some forward-planning and savvy spending, Christmas can certainly be something that we can look forward to instead of something to worry about.
Make a Christmas budget
Now, I’m sure we’d all like to spend thousands of pounds on the people we love, but that’s just not practical. So you’re going to have to set yourself a budget for Christmas and you’re going to have to stick to that budget if you don’t want to spend January stressing about being able to pay those pesky bills!
Check your bank account to see how much you’ll be able to realistically spend. If you’ve been organised, you’ll have been saving small amounts for the occasion throughout the year already and will have a nice chunk of money to be able to spend. So factor that into your budget too. If you have got to December with no money set aside for Christmas, be sure to check out my post on sinking funds. Once you start saving this way for Christmas you’ll wonder how you ever managed without them.
If you’re self-employed and don’t get paid for the time you take off over Christmas (how is that even fair, hey?!), you’ll need to make sure you leave yourself enough to live on while you’re not getting paid.
Make a list
Now you have your Christmas budget in place, you need to make a list of the people you want to buy for. You need to be realistic here though. Even though you might want to buy a gift for everyone you know, it’s likely not possible. So you’ll have to prioritise. You may have to leave some people off the list even if you don’t want to. But remember, leaving someone off your gift list doesn’t mean that you don’t care about them. Maybe you could have a chat with your family and friends to explain that you won’t be buying as many gifts this year. I can almost guarantee that they will probably be relieved, as they won’t feel the pressure to buy a million gifts too!
Consider handmade gifts
Not everything has to cost a lot of money and, often, the best gifts are the creative ones. Giving a handmade gift is a great way to save some money and you can guarantee that the recipient will be overjoyed to receive something that has obviously had time and thought poured into it. You could create a scrapbook from old photos, some lovely-smelling bath bombs, some baked and beautifully wrapped Christmas biscuits, or simply a handwritten poem. There are some great ideas on Pinterest if you need some inspiration.
Make use of cashback sites
If you aren’t making use of cashback sites for all of your purchases, not just your Christmas buys, then you’re leaving a heap of money on the table. Cashback sites are free to sign up to and every time you make a purchase with one of their retailers via their website, you’ll earn a percentage of your purchase back. this can range from between 1 – 30%. My favourite cashback sites are TopCashback and Cheddar, but there are many others too. By using cashback sites, you will reduce your overall spend and you can either put the money you save towards next Christmas or use it to buy extra gifts. Either way, it’s free money!
Organise a secret Santa
If you have lots of friends and family or work colleagues to buy for, organising a Secret Santa will save you a fortune. Instead of buying a gift for every person in the group, you just buy one gift for one person! To play, simply pop each member’s name into a hat and have each member pick out one name. The name a person picks is the person they buy a gift for. So, everyone will receive a gift but each member will only need to buy one gift.
Make use of discounts and sales
Before you buy a single gift, be sure to check online to see if you can find a discount code to save you some money. Browser extensions such as Honey will search for discount codes and automatically apply them when you checkout online. Wait for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to see if any of the items on your gift list have gone on offer. It’s very easy to get carried away with the hype though, so make sure you’re strickt with yourself and stick to your list.
Choose quality over quantity
If you find yourself buying lots and lots of little cheaper items as gifts and then buying more because what you’ve bought doesn’t really seem like enough, you’re not alone. We do this with the aim of trying to save some money but, in reality, we end up spending more on things that probably won’t even be used by the recipient. It’s actually far better to buy just one quality item that will be valued than lots of smaller lesser quality ones. It’s much better for the environment too.
Spend less on christmas dinner
Preparing and cooking Christmas dinner can leave many feeling overwhelmed, as we want it all to be perfect and set ourselves such high standards. We often spend far more than we need to and usually end up buying things that we know probably won’t be eaten but think we should buy them anyway because…well…that’s what you’re supposed to eat for Christmas dinner, isn’t it?
Make it your mission this year to only buy food that your family likes to eat. If everyone detests brussel sprouts, don’t buy them! If no one likes turkey but loves chicken, don’t buy an expensive turkey just because it’s tradition. Save yourself £20 and buy a chicken instead! If you’re a member of your supermarket’s loyalty scheme, consider using your points to buy your Christmas food and some of your gifts.
Plain and simple – once you’ve bought for everyone on your list STOP BUYING! It’s so tempting to keep buying more and more but remember – the more you buy this side of Christmas, the less money you’ll have to see you throiugh January. Put your purse or wallet away and sit smug in the knowledge that you’ve finished all of you rshopping and can now relax.
In summary, there are many ways in which you can save money over Christmas and stick to your budget. Break that habit of trying to achieve the ‘perfect’ Christmas by spending more money than you have – you’ll thank yourself come January.