The leaves haven’t fallen yet, but the bells are already jingling. For kids, Christmas is about fun, Santa and presents. For adults, we usually want to shout No! No! No! instead of Ho! Ho! Ho! Christmas costs money and too many of us wake up on January 1st with two things; a banging head and a hole in our finances.
One of the best ways to combat a hangover is to think ahead – you know you will need: water, coffee, aspirin, a dark room and multiple bacon sandwiches.
The same goes for a financial hangover – if you think ahead and plan what you are going to spend down to the last bauble, you can still have a holly jolly and debt free Christmas without paying for it for the rest of the year.
Remember, doing it all last minute equals panic buying, which we all know also means spending more cash than you should.
According to a survey by the Halifax, Brits spend an average of £500 on Christmas, which includes gifts, food, alcohol and socialising.
This may be a conservative estimate for those of us with large families and/or kids. The survey also found that one in three consumers still had payments outstanding in February and were still suffering the financial aftershocks of Christmas in April.
Some of these aftershocks may include paying off extra credit card debt and a mountain of bills in April with no fall back because you used your emergency fund to pay for Christmas.
So let’s looks at some ways you can have a Merry-But-Sensible-Christmas. It shouldn’t be all about money, Christmas can be enjoyed without suffering from a financial hangover.
8 Money Saving Tips for Christmas to Avoid Financial Meltdown
1. Change Your Mindset
We all love Christmas – the food, the socialising, seeing the kids opening their presents. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. However, some of us can go a bit Christmas crazy.
Try seeing Christmas for what it really is – a few days a year where you spend time with loved ones. It’s not about the presents or having the best dinner. It’s about spending time together. That is priceless.Christmas isn’t about presents; it’s about spending time together. That is pricelessClick To Tweet
2. Pick A Number
Look at your finances. How much can you really afford to spend on Christmas without denting your budget until April?
Before you start shopping, decide on how much you can spend (not how much you want to spend) and stick to it.
3. Make A List (And Check It Twice)
Once you’ve worked out how much you can afford to spend – make THE LIST. Include on this list all the gifts, food, booze, social events and decorations you will need to buy.
Put the cost of everything next to each item. If you have kids, allot them each a portion of the budget for their presents.
This list is more precious than Santa’s sack and is the key to remaining clear-headed come the New Year.
It should go with you every time you go near a shop (make copies for each coat pocket and handbag).
Be strong and stick to it – remember shops use devious tricks to make you spend more – your list will be your Festive armour against buying more than you need.
4. Be Jolly In Your Trolley
We’ve all seen those Marks and Spencer ads with the beautifully-shot, mouth-watering Christmas dishes.
But let’s think about what a Christmas dinner really is: it’s a roast dinner with a fruity pudding afterwards. It doesn’t have to be expensive.
Budget supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl do wonderful festive food and wine for half the price of the bigger, posher shops.
Also, if you have any skill in the kitchen: cook from scratch. It might take more time but it will be cheaper than buying expensive ready-made dishes. Another great way to save is to get every guest to bring a dish or a course.
5. Shop Online
Buying online means you can ignore all the twinkly things in the shops and only buy things on your list. Be careful of delivery costs though, they will need to be worked into your budget.
6. Give With Love, Not Cash
Talk to friends and family about presents. It might seem Scroogey, but why not opt out of buying presents for each other all together?
You’ll be surprised how many people will breathe a sigh of relief at this idea. Or why not suggest to family that you all only buy for the kids?
Let’s face it, all the adults really need is a bit of Festive spirit to make them happy.
7. Trust Your Kids To Be On The Nice List
If you have kids, you will probably be apprehensive about how much you can afford to spend on them.
Remember, young kids are lovely, simple beings. They won’t know what Santa has spent on their gifts. They will be happy with stuff from discount stores or cheaper toy ranges. As long as they have something to open, they’ll love every minute.
Ok, teenagers are more savvy – they know exactly what they want and it’s usually branded and expensive.
However, if you are in financial straits – talk to your older children and explain. You’ll be heartened at how much they are willing to overlook in order to help you out.
8. Make Christmas Magical, For Free
Christmas doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are plenty of things you can do to make it magical for free. Such as:
- A Christmas Eve walk into your local town or village to look at the lights and tree.
- A free letter from Santa for the kids – find out more at Royal Mail
- Go carolling – either with a group door to door or at a local church or group.
- Get cosy with a hot chocolate and a film. There’ll be plenty on over Christmas. Set your planner to record.
- Play games with the family – How about Pin the Nose on Reindeer? Easy to make, all you need is a piece of cardboard, a red paper nose, blue tack and a scarf for a blindfold. Even better after a few glasses of bubbly….but beware of the hangover!
Over to You
Do you have any magical tips for a budget Christmas? Where have you managed to cut costs in the festive season? Share with us below. We’d love to hear from you!