Christmas is a time that most people look forward to, but you might also feel a sense of dread as it approaches too. We’ve all been guilty of overindulging during the holidays and if you’re not careful with your spending at Christmas, you could be left with a hefty bill in the New Year. But the good news is that a little planning now could help you to avoid overspending and enjoy the festive season without worrying so much about your finances.
How much does the average Brit spend a year at Christmas?
As of 2019, Brits spend about £1,116 on average during the festive season. A huge £381.60 of that goes on presents alone! It’s no surprise then that those struggling already with their finances (62% of financially distressed and 71% of over-indebted Brits) say that Christmas increases their stress levels. Over half also feel that they’ll spend more than they should during the holidays.
Surprisingly, when asked if they’d like Christmas to be cancelled, struggling Brits said no. As a nation, it’s clear that we feel the festive season full of cheer and good-will is worth the stress caused by stretching our finances.
So, with Christmas around to stay, here are a few ways that you could save some money this Christmas and keep your spending in check . . .
Set yourself a budget
This might seem like an obvious one, but setting a budget for the festive season could be one of the best ways to help you keep on top of your finances. Not only will you know where your money is going, but you’ll also know exactly how much you can spend. When you set yourself a clear budget, you’re less likely to end up in debt and get caught out by unexpected costs.
If this is your first time setting a budget, or you’d like to find out the best way to do so, you can follow this simple guide by the money advice service.
Plan what you want to buy before you start shopping
Impulse buying is not your friend. We get it, buying presents, decorations and treats can be exciting and you might want to dive right in. But taking a little time to decide what exactly it is you need before you start shopping could help you to stay in budget and avoid buying anything you won’t actually use.
Ban unnecessary presents
And while we’re talking about things you don’t need, why not ban any unnecessary present buying? Gift-giving can be a tricky thing to navigate. We’ve all got caught up in gift exchanges that we don’t really want to be a part of but don’t say no to for fear of being labelled a grinch.
Well, it’s time to put an end to that. Christmas is about celebrating the ones you love, so try to pare back the list of people you’ll be buying gifts for this year. It might be tough to do but your wallet will thank you for it. If you really can’t bring yourself to give fewer gifts, why don’t you try making some presents, or sharing experiences instead of forking out on expensive things?
Secret Santa is also a great way of reducing the amount of gifts you give while still participating. Not only is it a fun thing to do, but often there are spending limits and you’re guaranteed to only have to buy one present for someone in that group. If cash is tight this year you could introduce Secret Santa with family members and friends to keep your budget in check.
There’s a lot going on in the run-up to the holidays. Lots of shops have different kinds of sales on, and you may be seeing a lot of offers online. It can seem overwhelming and you might be tempted to buy something in the first shop you find but this could end up costing you money. If there’s something in particular that you’re looking for, shop around online and in-person to make sure you find the best deal you can.
Rein in other spending
Do you really need another decoration for your house or extra food that probably won’t get eaten? Not only will not buying it help you to save money, but it will also cut down on unnecessary waste too. Try to think back on previous Christmases and do your shopping based on that. If you’re sharing a meal with loved ones don’t be scared to ask them to bring food along or to chip in. After all, we all know how expensive feeding an extended family can be!
Avail of your company’s saving scheme
When you think of workplace savings you may just think of your pension, but some companies also offer tax-efficient ways of saving money as you earn it (SAYE). SAYE is a monthly saving scheme that could help you to save up to £500 each month while the scheme lasts – it usually runs for three or five years. You could take out your savings early if you want but you will have to pay any applicable tax.
Worried about stretching your December paycheck?
For those of us who get paid monthly, the wait between the December and January paycheck can seem to last forever. Especially with many of us getting paid earlier than usual in December. So while making your money stretch isn’t easy, a bit of planning and a few budget tricks could help keep you going until your next payday. Here are a few suggestions to get you started…
Freeze any leftover food
If you’ve bought a lot of food over Christmas, why not freeze some of it and save it for later on? Most of us find ourselves with surplus drinks and food over the holidays so saving some of it for later could help you to cut down on your grocery bills.
Put subscriptions on hold
If your finances are feeling a bit stretched, you could consider pausing any subscriptions you have until after your January paycheck comes in.
Pack your own lunch
If you’re heading back into the office after the holiday season, bringing your own lunch could save you having to fork out on expensive meals each day.
Use cash instead of your card
When you can’t physically see your money it can be more difficult to keep track of. With debit and credit cards your account balance may not update quickly enough for you to know how much you’re spending. Opting for cash could help you to keep the pennies in check.
Don’t spend outside of your comfort zone this season, or any season
Whatever it is you’re buying this holiday season or any season, try to remember to stay within your comfort zone. It can be easy to spend a lot during Christmas and avoid thinking about it until the New Year but this could have your finances suffering. The sooner you work on positive spending habits, the sooner you’ll have better control of your money.