Christmas is an invariably busy, and often stressful, time of the year, and it demands a great deal of discretionary spending. But by planning ahead, saving up, and being responsible in your spending, you can have a debt free Christmas, and go forth into 2017 in a financially positive way with these great tips.
5 Simple Ways to Have a Debt Free Christmas
1. Create Debt Free Christmas Budget
The single most important thing you can do to take control of your finances — at any time of the year — is to produce a realistic budget.
If you don’t know how much income you have, and how much you spend, how can you possibly plan? Knowing your figures is essential for a debt free Christmas.
On a weekly or monthly basis, list your income and essential expenses (rent or mortgage, utility bills, credit card repayments, food shopping, etc.) and work out how much is left over. That is the amount you can spend or save without getting in to debt.
Check out our handy guide on how to budget and harness your finances.
The earlier you start saving for Christmas, the more you’ll have available to spend.
It sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t think ahead, and instead max out their credit card and overdraft facilities come December.
From your budget you’ll know how much money you can afford to put aside each week or month, and if you deposit it in a designated savings account you’ll be less inclined to fritter it away in the meantime on clothes or nights out with the girls. Check out our handy guide on how to save money without breaking a sweat.
3. Write A Gift List – And Keep to It!
The seasonal onslaught of advertising can leave us feeling that only expensive, branded gifts are worthwhile, and that price is a signifier of love.
This aspect of consumerism is deeply damaging, and a lie. It’s also one of the main reasons people get into debt at Christmas.
The truth is you don’t have to give a gift to everyone you know.
A carefully chosen gift will be more valued than an unnecessarily over-priced one. And if your kids receive six parcels in their stocking from Father Christmas, they are just as lucky (and loved) as if they get 10.
Start by writing a list of the people you absolutely have to give a gift to. This list will be relatively small, possibly no more than three or five people.The truth is you don’t have to give a gift to everyone you know.Click To Tweet
Beneath that add a list of people who you’d ideally like to give a gift to, even if it is just a token of your love, friendship, or appreciation.
Because you’ve already created your budget and put money aside as savings, you know how much you can spend, in total. Divide it up between the people on your list, starting at the top.
If you know that you have a maximum of £200 available, and that you need to allow £50 for a gift for your partner, and £50 for your child, the remaining £100 will have to be split between everyone else on your list.
When you’re shopping, start at the top of the list and work down. Don’t buy gifts for anyone who isn’t on your list, and stick strictly to the amounts you have budgeted for each person.A carefully chosen gift will be more valued than an unnecessarily over-priced one. Click To Tweet
Having a debt free Christmas requires planning, and also being a savvy shopper.
If you know that you want a specific gift for someone — this year’s must-have toy, for example — be sure to shop around.
Browse online to compare prices, and check out sites like eBay which frequently have new (or barely used) items at a discounted rate. Websites such as Quidco and TopCashback will let you earn cash back on your purchases, effectively giving you a discount.
Remember that you don’t have to buy every gift from the shops. If you’re a GBBO-worthy baker, you might make a batch of Christmas cakes and puddings, and wrap them in pretty ribbons, or gift someone a batch of cookies each month of the forthcoming year.
Likewise, your gift could be plants from your garden, homemade jam or sloe gin, a sketch you’ve done, or a poem you’ve written. If you know your best made hates ironing with a passion, why not promise to iron her shirts throughout 2017? She’ll absolutely love you for that, and it won’t cost you anything more than your time.
5. Enjoy Your Debt Free Christmas
When Christmas comes, enjoy it!
Having worked hard to ensure you have a debt free Christmas, you deserve to relax and have fun.
If you’ve anything left in your savings account, you might even be able to treat yourself to something special. Spend your time with the people you love, and remember that being together and creating shared memories are the greatest gifts of all.
Over to You
Start planning for your debt free Christmas today: don’t leave it until Advent begins!
How much can you save between now and then? And what thoughtful gifts can you choose which will be appreciated but won’t break the bank?