The decorations and mince pies are already on sale in many shops around the UK now and, with the nights starting to draw in, thoughts turn to Christmas. And also to the expense associated with the festive season, which for some is a stressful time of year. Here’s how to plan your budget ahead and keep yourself feeling happy about ‘the most wonderful time of the year’…
Budgeting for Christmas. Too soon to talk about it, right? But if you want to treat your friends and family over the festive season, it’s a good idea to start thinking about it now. That way, you can spread the expense and avoid putting all your presents, food and nights out on the credit card. A shock card bill that arrives in January is not a good start to the year! If, like many people, you worry about money, then you should visit this website for advice before you start thinking about Christmas plans so you’re well-prepared.
MAKE A SENSIBLE BUDGET
You can’t make any spending plans until you know how much you have to spend, so work out how much you can afford before you even start browsing. What can you comfortably put aside from your salary each month? Work out what that adds up to for September, October and November and, once you know how much you’ve got, you can get to work making it stretch further by following these tips.
LOOK FOR ALL THE BOGOFS AND THREE-FERS
Lots of the bigger chain stores in the UK have special Christmas promotions where you can buy one and get one free, or buy three items for the price of two. If you track some down, you can plan your attack well in advance by mixing and matching your selections to suit your friends and family. You’ll also find these offers on Christmas food and treats in the run up to the big day. I’ve already seen chocolate selection boxes in the supermarket this month and they probably won’t get any cheaper the closer you get to Christmas.
START BUILDING UP LOYALTY POINTS
Whichever loyalty cards you have, make sure you build up as many points as you can before Christmas. Ideally you should have been doing this since last Christmas, but there’s no such thing as too late! Look out for double and triple point promotions, too, even if it means switching brands. Tesco Clubcard vouchers are handy for getting your whole Christmas dinner, or can sometimes be converted online into gift vouchers. If you did all your shopping and got your fuel from Tesco, this could add up to quite a bit of free spending money.
LEAVE SOME THINGS TO THE LAST MINUTE
Take care of the important wishlist can’t-live-without presents first. Then, when it comes to stocking fillers and non-essentials, wait until December 23 and even Christmas Eve, as shops start slashing prices to clear their shelves. This also applies to online shops in December, so keep a keen eye on your objects of desire and sign up for email alerts so you hear about discounts when they happen.
USE AMAZON PRIME’S FREE TRIAL
As soon as December rolls around, sign up for Amazon Prime as you’ll get it free for a month, which means you’ll save on delivery charges. Most people now buy between a third and a half of their Christmas presents online, so if you can cut out delivery costs, you’ll save enough for a few more gifts. Plus, the delivery arrives quickly which is great for last minute presents. You also get access to Prime movies so just think of all those Christmas films you can enjoy! Just remember to cancel your subscription before the New Year so that you don’t get charged for the whole year!
BUY SOME THINGS AFTER THE BIG DAY
Most shops now open on Boxing Day so the days in between Christmas and New Year can offer up some serious price cuts to anyone who can tear themselves away from their mince pies. If you have plans to visit family or friends after Christmas Day or for New Year, then you can buy their gifts after the main hurly-burly is over and benefit from the sales discounts (they need never know..!)
BUY CARDS, WRAPPING PAPER AND DECORATIONS IN JANUARY
This is more for next Christmas, but using a bit of foresight will make it cheaper. The average roll of wrapping paper costs £2.00, and the more luxurious rolls can cost as much as £5.00; this can soon mount up if you need a lot. Once the January sales kick in, these rolls can be found for 50p. It’s a no-brainer!
I know it’s early but I hope this unseasonably festive blog post has given you some ideas for getting a head-start on Christmas, and that you’ll be able to save some money in the process. Please share your own tips for getting a bargain at Christmas in the comments below, I’d love to hear what you do!