With Christmas just around the corner, the season to be jolly is upon us. Whether you’re a festive fiend or little bit of a scrooge, there is no getting away from it… Christmas costs money.
If you’re anything like me, you make your Christmas budget, and then promptly blow it. ‘It’s Christmas’, we say, ‘let’s go all out!’ And then come January, when your bank account looks bleak and the credit card bill rolls in, we don’t feel quite so joyous. So this year, I’ve decided to be sensible and try to save money without scrimping on the festivities. Here are my top ten tips to avoid a financial hangover this Christmas:
- Make your budget… and stick to it. It’s easy to make a budget and ignore it, so be firm and abide by the budget. The Money Advice Service have launched a Christmas money planner, which is a fantastic tool to help you plan. It budgets everything from presents to decorations, so definitely give this one a go.
- Keep your Christmas money in a separate account. As with any big purchase, it’s sensible to keep the money separate so it doesn’t get mixed up with your day-to-day living costs. Plus, it’s way easier to track your spending this way.
- Take a look at who you’re buying presents for… do you have to buy for everyone? If you’ve always sent a gift to the friend you never see, ditch the present and suggest a date to catch up over lunch in January. Huge family to buy for? Why not suggest drawing a name out of a hat so that everyone buys one great gift.
- Online all the way. It’s no secret that online is usually cheaper, but I personally find it easier to shop around and keep track of my spending. If you have a specific gift in mind, take advantage of one of the many price comparison tools. I like Idealo and Pricespy for speedy results.
- You can make cash as you spend, so get cashback savvy and sign up to Quidco. Simply head to their website or app, search the retailer you are about to buy from, and click through to your website of choice. You’ll get anything up to 20% of what you spend credited to your Quidco account, which you can transfer to your bank account or upload to an eVoucher. I’ve made £200 in cashback this year so far.
- Always search for a discount code before you shop. Head to Vouchercodes.co.uk for codes that are tested and working, and sign up to emails for subscriber offers. There are always plenty around Christmas.
- Get crafty. Now, not all of us have time for handmade presents, but if you have a creative streak and some extra time, a handmade present is always well received. It can even be something simple like a Christmas cake! Head to Pinterest for the lowdown on some genuinely nice gifts.
- Christmas is the perfect excuse to eat like a king for at least three weeks, and we’re all guilty going overboard on the Christmas food shop. Save money by shopping at budget supermarkets, like Lidl, Aldi, and Iceland
- Trial Amazon Prime for free, and get free, unlimited one-day delivery on everything. Just don’t forget to cancel your trial.
- Book your festive travel in advance. The cheapest train tickets are released up to 12 weeks before your planned travel, so book early for the biggest discounts. Check out Trainline.com for easy comparison.
It can be really easy to go overboard at Christmas, but with a little bit of financial planning you can ease the January financial blues without missing out on all the festive fun.