Have you dared to look at your Christmas spending yet? Has the credit card bill come in yet, so you can face what Christmas cost you? I have faced mine and it’s scary. This year I am starting to save for Christmas right now.
I have a credit card that I pay off in full every month (it costs me nothing in interest, but I do get a lovely cash back kick back once a year of around £300). I put all the regular spending on it from petrol to groceries to things for the boys, anything Christmas related went on there too. That bill is just about to hit my current account so needs to be paid next week. It is coming in at £2,000, this is £1,000 more than a regular month. Ouch. Double ouch.
I estimate that Christmas has cost around £1,500 in total and this is even with us agreeing with the wider family and friends to not buy presents. I know that many people are in a similar, maybe worse, position and are feeling the pressure now the festivities are all over. Many people cannot afford to repay the Christmas bill in full.
Why not do something different this year. Save up for Christmas starting now and have a nice fund built up that will cover the costs and you can start January afresh with no debts from Christmas.
I have been trying out a couple of automated savings tools. Chip is an app on my phone that automatically saves money for me every week depending on my spending habits and balance. Plum is a Facebook messenger tool which again saves money for me depending on my spending habits and balance.
Both tools are link to your bank account, and transfer amounts depending on rules you have set up. For example, you may want to have savings switched off when you are overdrawn.
I have been using Chip for around 6 months now and really love it. I don’t even notice the money leaving my account and when I do remember to check there is a nice balance sat there. There was £500 in there to help pay for my Christmas after the six months of transfers. The other great thing about Chip is that my interest is set at 3% and this can grow up to 5% if friends join.
Plum is slightly different as it helps me with budgeting and spending awareness. I get a message every day telling me my balance and a weekly message telling me what I have spent, categorised as well. I really like this daily awareness of how much is sat in my current account. Plum also make automated savings for me, albeit at a much smaller amounts than Chip.
A year of these two automated accounts working for me saving money is going to create a fund that will pay for Christmas 2019.
Manual cash/coin methods
I have seen lots of ways of saving up cash over the year using a coin jar. A good way to save if you can trust that you won’t dip into the jar if you need the money throughout the year!
There is the penny method, where you save every day starting with 1p for day 1, 2p for days 2, £3.65 for day 365. If you do this consistently for 1 year you will have £668 saved, not bad at all! But you must remember to put the money in the jar every day.
Or what about a weekly method with you start saving £1 in week 1, £2 in week 2, working up to £52 in week 52, this method means you will end up with £1,378 saved! Although its going to be tough at the end of the process when you need to be saving £50/51/52 per week!
Whichever method you choose I urge you to start saving now for next Christmas and relieve yourself a huge amount of pressure for next year that you may well be experiencing now. It will make a huge difference to know you are starting January afresh without the debt from Christmas hanging around your shoulders.
What if the debt is too much?
If your debt levels, feel out of control and you are unable to make payments please don’t despair. Make it a priority to speak to one of wonderful debt charities who can help you to get in control and work out a plan. Speak to Step Change, Citizens Advice Bureau or Christians Against Poverty. All are wonderful organisation who can help.