In our house the countdown to Christmas has begun. Not only am I super-excited that my favourite time of year is less than 10 weeks away, but I’m preparing myself in a thrifty sense too. We all know that the cost of Christmas can soon add up so this month I’ve started buying gifts to spread the cost. Plus, I’ve treated myself to some festive craft kits to help me and my family get into the festive spirit in the run up to December – well, you can never have too many handmade baubles can you?! Decorations aside, today I want to share with you some ideas for saving money this festive season and hopefully help with your financial planning too..!
It may seem a little soon to be thinking about plans for Christmas; after all, we’ve not even got Halloween or Bonfire Night out of the way yet! But planning ahead is a sure-fire way to make certain that you don’t overspend this Christmas. It allows you to save over the coming weeks, spread the cost and prevent costly impulse shopping at the last minute. With the average family spending £820 on Christmas (statistic from an interesting infographic by Alexander & Co accountants in Manchester) that can be a big hit on your bank account all at once so here are some ways to save a little cash this year while still enjoying the run-up to the big day.
- What can I afford to spend? Instead of buying gifts and treats then being shocked when they add up to a surprisingly high number, I suggest deciding what you can afford to spend on Christmas and working your way back from that number. Divide your budget between gifts, food and decorations and make a shopping list – then actually stick to it! Shops spend millions on clever marketing to target your impulse buying so only buy what you’ve chosen in advance to avoid falling into this trap!
- How can I spread the cost? Instead of paying out for everything in December and creating a particularly poor New Year, consider allocating a portion of your wages to Christmas each month. If you’ve not saved anything until now, it’s not too late – take a chunk out of October and November’s pay packet (as much as you can afford) and buy non-perishables and gifts in advance.
- How can I get the best prices? Shopping around has never been easier; if you’re after a particular gift spend time trawling the internet to find the best prices and keep an eye on sales. In the run-up to Christmas prices tend to fluctuate so, with Black Friday and festive discounts before December, you can get some great deals and hide the gift away until the 25th December. Panic buying means that you can’t take advantage of these savings so make that list today and keep an eye on prices for the next couple of months.
- What do the children want from Santa? Remember that children aren’t retail snobs and won’t notice where a product is from, or even what brand it is. Quite often, they are more interested in playing with the box or wrapping paper than the gift itself! So there’s no need to bankrupt yourself to buy the best toy when you can shop around and get something similar at a great price – a princess castle is a princess castle, no matter where it’s from!
- How can I avoid this next Christmas? The simple answer is to start saving early! Maybe take a month off in January to help get you level after this Christmas and then put away cash in a saving account each month in preparation for next winter. Perhaps you could agree with friends and family that you could all cut back on gift giving next year and only buy treats for the kids – but that’s a conversation for next year, not now! And even putting all your loose change in a pot throughout the year can make a difference next December – you might even be able to get the festive food shop from your spare change!
Do you have any tips for preparing for this Christmas? What do you do to spread the cost or keep spending down? Please share your tips in the comments below or tweet me @Cassiefairy.