Celebrating Christmas on a Budget
It’s official: it’s December 1st, which means ‘tis the season to be jolly’. But, for many people Christmas is one of the most expensive times of year; Presents, Food, Travel, Decorations, Parties… There is often so much you need to organise that the idea of budgeting carefully, just flies out of the window – who has the time, right?
Well, we recommend that at the beginning of the Christmas period, budgeting becomes a top priority. Come January, you’ll be thankful that you did!
1. Prepare your Budget
The most important way to prevent Christmas getting out of hand is to plan ahead and budget. Write it down! It sounds so simple, but it will help you to prioritise your spending and see where you might be overspending
Step One: Write down your income, work out how much you have left over after you have paid all of your necessary outgoings, such as your rent or mortgage, bills and food, and then you will be left with your disposable income.
Step Two: Write out all the things you need to spend on Christmas. How many presents do you need to buy? Do you need to travel to your parents’ home? How many parties are you going to go to? Do you need to bring food, drink, or presents to these parties? Are you hosting one of these parties or Christmas Day itself? For how many people? How are you celebrating New Year’s Eve?
Include New Year’s Day into your plan as well. It may technically be in January, but you don’t want to be caught out with your bank closed, no plan, and no money.
If your disposable income is insufficient to cover the cost of Christmas, then you need to get savvy:
- Sending e-cards is a great way to save on postage and the costs of cards, and saves time writing them out
- Look on free cycle or things for sale websites in your local area, you can often pick up new or nearly new bargains
- Plan ahead and shop for deals – you don’t have to do all of your Christmas shopping in December. Next year, if you see a perfect present in a sale in May, buy it, and stick it in a cupboard – just don’t forget you bought it!
- If you’ve got a big family, float the idea of Secret Santa. It saves money, can be a lot of fun, and means everyone gets a gift at a fraction of the cost
- You can also set a spending limit on presents. It really is the thought that counts, so why not suggest to your family that you don’t spend over £10 per present, maybe even £5?
- If you’ve been left with cooking for a large family, share out the courses to share the cost, no one getting their dinner cooked for them will begrudge making a contribution to the day
- Take advantage of special sales in the run up to Christmas. Black Friday may have come and gone, but there are still all kinds of deals to be had, right up to the big day!
2. Ask for Help!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and family when you need it.
It could mean asking them for a bit of financial help. This is often preferable to formalised credit, but you know your loved ones best so you know if they are able to help. But, even if they can’t help you financially, they can help take some pressure off you.
This may mean asking them to make sure there is a financial limit on the cost of presents, or asking to do a Secret Santa this year, rather than buying hundreds of presents.
Talking about your finances can be scary, but you will probably find that more people have money concerns during this period than you think. They are likely to be grateful that you brought it up!
When it comes to children, don’t forget that they don’t actually need the best and most expensive toys. Being told ‘no’ can be good for them, you just have to communicate why. You could discuss with them about budgeting. Who knows? They might just learn something!
Remember: It’s the most wonderful time of the year for you too, just as much as it is for anyone else. So, don’t be afraid to make a decision which will help make you less stressed, even if it isn’t a popular idea.
3. Credit as a last resort
If it’s just not going to be possible to manage on your budget then you may want to turn to Credit as a last resort. If you do, make sure you look for deals on low or zero interest credit cards that let you spread the cost of Christmas over a few months.
But make sure you continue to budget from January and put together a sensible repayment plan so you don’t end up left with unaffordable repayments to debts in the New Year.
Only take out what you can afford to repay. If you don’t think you will be able to repay it, then remember that Christmas isn’t worth getting into severe debt trouble. It may be difficult, but you need to talk to your loved ones about making some serious sacrifices.
But, sacrifices don’t have to be horrible. Think outside the box: home-made presents can be great, or offer your time as a present. Could your sister do with a free monthly babysitter so she can have a night out? Could you teach someone a skill? Tell your kids that you want them to give you the gift of doing the dishes for a month.
If you want something to unwrap, you can make pretty vouchers out of them and hide them around the house to find with a chocolate coin. There are all sorts of fun ideas that can dramatically cut costs.
4. We are here for you
Debt is nothing to be ashamed of, many more people than you’d imagine are struggling to manage their personal finances. Don’t be worried, talk about it. If you are unable to discuss with family, google Creditfix and give us a call
Creditfix are an Insolvency Practitioner firm. Between us, our 5 Insolvency Practitioners have over 70 years of experience and we have over 300 staff working on our behalf to support you.
We offer no obligation advice on a range of debt solutions.
When you ring through to us, our advisers will run through your monthly Income and Expenditure and all of your debts and your personal circumstances to determine the appropriate advice for you. Whether you own or rent your home, are single or live with your partner, whether you have children or dependants, there is likely a solution to suit your circumstances.
- Don’t be put under pressure to spend what you don’t have, prepare your budget and stick to it
- Only use credit as a last resort, and make sure you chose low or zero interest credit where possible
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether that means speaking to family or to the experts
- If you do feel that your debts are out of control, you can google Creditfix to gain support and help with your financial situation
1 December 2017
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