How to save money for Christmas
The festive season may seem a long way off and we know that this year could be a little bit different but we're pretty darn sure that Christmas can't be cancelled! Planning ahead now could give you a more affordable Christmas.
If you can get ahead of the game it can help control the yuletide spend. The Bank of England estimates that a typical UK household spends £500 extra in December, plus with the introduction of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, spending in November has shot up in recent years too.
More worryingly, statistics from an article by The Independent show the average person takes four months to pay off their festive debts from the 'combined cost of presents, food, drink and travel' - this means that a 'typical adult will need 14 weeks to pay off credit cards'. As a result of spending at Christmas, 40% believe January will be the most difficult month of the year financially. We believe a little preparation can lead to a less expensive Christmas and a more comfortable beginning to the new year. After all, Christmas comes at the same time each year so it shouldn't be a surprise that we're going to spend money.
How to save for Christmas
Here are our top tips and tricks for getting ahead, months before the festive season kicks in.
1. Set a budget and know how much you need to save
Every family is different. Some may have plenty of parties, buffets and hordes of people to buy for whereas others may be smaller and keep celebrations to just a few days over the festive period.
Think back to last year to get an idea of occasions, food and gifts then consider where you could potentially cut back. Once you have a budget and a number to work towards you'll be able to split this up over the months left before Christmas in order to know how much you'll need to save. Here are some points to get you started.
- Do you really need three wheels of cheese for your Boxing Day buffet? If you were eating brie and bacon toasties until Valentine's Day this year, probably not.
- Re-use decorations from last year and you'll save a chunk from your spending allowance.
- Remove outfits from your budget - these aren't essential unless children have grown out of them and we have some festive fashion tips for the grown-ups coming up.
- Talk to family and friends and discuss bringing gifts down a notch this year if you weren't comfortable with your spend last year or know that you won't be able to afford as much this year.
- Set a gift budget so you know how much you'll spend on gifts and share this with your family or organise Secret Santa amongst different friend groups - everyone will only buy and receive one gift and you'll all save a packet.
- Alternatively, agree not to buy gifts for certain people.
- Warn people you won't be sending Christmas cards this year and grab their email address instead. Try writing a family newsletter round up and pop it around to friends and family that you'd usually send a card to. You'll save around 76p on each first class stamp which means if you'd usually send around 30 Christmas cards you'll save just under £23 - that's a few bottles of Prosecco for the Boxing Day party!
Of course, this year may be different in terms of get-togethers but no-one has a crystal ball to predict what may happen so you could plan for what you've been used to in previous years if that makes you feel more comfortable.
2. Start saving!
Start saving for Christmas as soon as you can. Make regular weekly deposits or set up a Direct Debit for when you get paid to make sure your Christmas savings are safe before you start to spend! Remember to deposit the cash somewhere you can’t be tempted to spend it, for example, a savings account and you'll even earn a bit of interest on top.
Check out our How to save fast article for ideas on how much you could save from cutting down on regular spends like car washes, takeaways, coffees and meal deals. For example, if you spend £2 a day on a flat white every day during a working week and you cut this out at the beginning of September you'll have 13 weeks worth of saving. That's £130 in the Christmas pot by the beginning of December!
3. The Six Month Saving Plan
Starting from July and thinking ahead towards Christmas can feel like you've got a long way to go but if you need £500 for your Christmas budget, that's around £20 a week to put away. If you can spare £10 a week to pop into an envelope you could end up with £220 by the first week of December which could definitely shave a little bit off the price of dinner, we hope! Whatever you can set aside each week, squirrel it away and we're certain that you'll thank yourself in the future. Check out our article all about how to save money on the Christmas feast if all this talk of turkey has made you hungry.
4. Sell, swap and boost your budget!
Christmas time always comes with 'stuff'. You'll more than likely accumulate more belongings during December and preparing for Christmas can be a great time for a clear out. You'll make some extra cash to boost your budget too!
- Read our four steps to an organised home guide and sell or swap any items that you no longer need.
- When it comes to new outfits, check out websites such as eBay and Depop for bargain party outfits.
- Make money on your online purchases by using cashback sites for your day to day purchases on the run up to Christmas. If you start this early, your cashback could come in time for December and some of your Christmas shopping could end up being free, especially as you can sometimes trade in your cashback for gift cards in the shops you'd usually buy Christmas treats in. Just call you the coupon king or queen! Try shopping for Christmas presents via cashback sites too and reap the rewards in the new year.
5. Make a list, and check it twice
When it comes to buying your gifts, decide what you'd like to buy people by around mid-November and follow these tips for ultimate savings.
- Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales if the items are on your list. Both of these events are in November, hence the list deadline.
- Avoid buying extra gifts that could mean the inevitable shop to 'even things out' amongst siblings to make sure everyone has the same amount of gifts.
- Do your shopping online if you often get tempted by shiny displays and offers to avoid getting side tracked into over-spending. Plus, you can often receive freebies like samples and free gift wrapping with some online retailers.
- Don't buy from the first place you see something, shop around to see where you can save.
- Use 3-for-2 deals and other retailer offers. But, again only buy into them if they're gifts that are actually on your list.
- Once you've actually bought your tin of Quality Street or barrel of biscuits, hide them away and don't be tempted to dip into it because you'll only have to re-buy them!
- Try making some gifts this year such as cookies, jam, sloe gin or fudge - many people prefer an edible (or drink-able) gift so they aren't plagued with clutter.
- Re-gift items that you haven't opened or used. We're talking the bottle of wine you won at a raffle and you won't drink.
- Cash in loyalty points from your regular supermarket or high street shops and use them for gifts.
There we have five different areas that could impact your festive saving and spending - what do you think you'll save the most on this year? Let us know your Christmas savings tips over on Twitter or Facebook.
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