10 Tips on How to Budget This Christmas
The pressure is on for a Christmas that tops all others, the adverts are making your fingers twitch over the keyboard of spending, and the sense that you need to spend, spend, spend is firmly lodged in your mind. The average British family spends a whopping £800 on Christmas, with 23% feeling pressured to spend much more than they can truly afford. All this spells the potential for over-spending, even the need for a debt management solution such as an IVA, so how can you be sure you get it ‘right’ this Christmas? Here are our 10 Tips on How to Budget This Christmas.
#1 – Remember That Even Santa Doesn’t Have Everything
All of a sudden, as December trudges on, it’s easy to be a shade resembling the Grinch and think others are better off, have more, and are therefore having a better Christmas. Christmas, in essence, is about traditions, not things. So focus more on what makes Christmas special for you and your family, not keeping up with the Joneses.
#2 – Think Festive Memories Not Financial Woes
January blues tend to hit hard when you’ve overspent at Christmas. There may have been a split second of awe and wonder as your 4 year old unwrapped the latest big-budget toy, but once the toy is left gathering dust, you don’t want to be paying the price. Think of the ways to make Christmas magical with minimal spending. Wander the window displays of your local city or Christmas Market whilst enjoying a warming mulled wine, go holly collecting in the woods, look up Santa’s journey on NORAD. There are plenty of free or cheap options that will create memories that last beyond the spending frenzy without breaking the bank.
#3 – Channel Your Inner Elf and Make Lists & Budgets
Our biggest tip to budgeting at Christmas is: Make a Budget. In order to stick to a budget you need one in place first. Therefore write down everything that is going to require money: from presents to food, cards to drink, days out to party-wear. Then have a look at what you have available to spend and assign it accordingly. Purchases must then be made based on the budget, not desirability.
#4 – Offers Aren’t Offers If They Are Out of Budget
The never ending Black Friday Month that hits the internet is constantly bombarding us with adverts that sound unbelievably enticing. Electronics with 50% off, toys of the moment with 25% off, even food and drink rock the supermarket shelves adjacent to bright sales signs. However, if the offer is still over the budget assigned in Tip 3 then it is not affordable. It’s not a good deal for you if you takes you over what you can afford. Don’t forget, these deals might feel like one-offs for Christmas, but they’re not. They will still be there in the New Year if you keep your eyes open, so don’t be tempted to spend beyond your means for the sake of an offer!
#5 – Get Expectations Under Control and the Budget Will Follow
It’s easy for every adult, let alone an excited child, to let their imaginations of Christmas run wild. This is particularly true when the Big Man in Red is capable of feats of magic that apparently aren’t confined by bank accounts. This takes careful management to ensure expectations are in line with realistic budgeting. Set expectations for everyone, from the child who may need to believe that Santa only brings stocking gifts (and they’ll be more than happy!), to teens who need to know the latest tech gadget doesn’t mean best, to Aunt Morag’s next door neighbour who really doesn’t need a gift from you, just a card and a cup of tea. Secret Santa can be your friend here. If you’re used to buying for groups, introduce the concept and help everyone’s budget.
#6 – Magic Really is Free
Somewhere in the midst of December we come to equate magic with money. In reality this needn’t be the case. If the budget doesn’t stretch then this may be the year you forgo the expensive panto and instead head to your local church’s free carol concert. Perhaps Christmas cards and their postage are out of budget this year, so spend some time online creating free but thoughtful alternatives. Take children to the multitude of free events, from light switch-ons to town festivities.
#7 – Put the Cards Away
This time we don’t mean Christmas cards, but December is the time to ensure your credit cards stay wrapped up snug away from the spending. One of the simplest ways to ensure you’re not going to be feeling the festive blues is to pay for everything up front, not on credit. If it’s not within the budget, it shouldn’t be spent. Those bargains aren’t bargains once you add the un-festive interest you’ll be accruing come the New Year. Don’t be tempted to think that you can only pay ‘safely’ online by using a credit card. Make PayPal your friend.
#8 – Christmas Comparisons, Become a Shopping Detective
You have one powerful festive tool at your fingertips that will ensure you don’t pay over the odds for anything this Christmas: the internet. Once you’ve drawn up the budget, and thought what you are going to buy, then hit the internet and get comparing. It won’t take long before you realise that the most popular Christmas Gifts of 2016 vary enormously in price. From Lego to Hatchimals, Whisky to Port, Chanel to Calvin Klein, don’t simply buy something in the first place you see it. Hunt around for the best deal.
#9 – Don’t Forget the Feasting
It’s easy to think your main expenditure at Christmas is on gifting, and this may be true. However, if you’re hosting, either the main event or a party somewhere in the festive season, then pay close attention to this budget too. It’s easy to fail to see just how much extra the festive season costs for food and drink. A turkey at £45, your favourite festive tipple at £20, and the crackers for the table soon add up. So be savvy and make sure you’re spending wisely on groceries by using mysupermarket – available online or by app
#10 – Think Ahead to Christmas Future
Even if this year’s budget leaves you feeling a little more Scrooge than Santa, make sure Christmasses Future take on an easier slant. As soon as the New Year rolls around, set up a savings account dedicated to all things Christmas. This way, come Christmas 2017 you’ll be feeling a good bit more festive knowing your budget is already receiving a boost. Similarly, pick up stocking fillers along the way, including orders from China which take a long time to arrive but can be got at a fraction of the cost of the same goods in the UK.
Budget Christmasses are Magical Christmasses
Follow our 10 Tips on How to Budget This Christmas and you’ll have a magical Christmas to remember which doesn’t break the bank.
If you need more information about the options available to you in dealing with your debt, you can always speak confidentially with one of our friendly advisors on 0808 2085 198.