Are you bracing yourself for a penniless New Year? Many of us struggle financially at Christmas - so much so that, each year, a ‘Christmas on credit’ puts 1 in 20 Brits at risk of severe financial hardship. According to the Money Advice Trust, people are even letting things like utility bills and rent slide in order to fund their Christmases.
Christmas is traditionally a time of indulgence, and many of us feel obliged to try and make this time of year as magical as possible - even if that means sacrificing financial stability. But there’s no need to go into debt just to prove that you love your family and friends. It’s perfectly possible to have a lovely, festive, caring and even indulgent Christmas on a budget. Here’s how...
Start preparing early
OK, it’s already November, so this one may be a little too late…but, in general, you can save an awful lot of money on things like gifts and decorations if you don’t buy them right before Christmas. Picking up gifts through the year, when they’re on sale or when you’re feeling flush can make an enormous difference to your bank balance come the 25th. Although it may feel like way in advance, hit the January sales for Christmas 2020 gifts and decs.
Don’t leave travel plans to the last minute
If you’re travelling to see family, book any tickets early. The earlier you buy them, the cheaper they’ll be. If your budget is tight and travel costs a bomb, remember that it’s ok to spend Christmas at home and see your loved ones another time. If the financial stress and pressure of travelling outweighs the pleasure you’d get from your destination, it’s probably best to skip the trip and stay home.
Be realistic when food shopping
Christmas is a time for indulgence but, let’s be honest, who actually eats everything they buy in their Christmas food shops? Ask yourself if you and/or your guests really are going to manage every last scrap of food in your trolley, and cut back accordingly if the answer is ‘no’.
Practice some basic budgeting techniques
Budgeting techniques like breaking your budget down into portions, only shopping with a costed list, and perhaps even using a budgeting appcan really help you to keep control of your spending.
Gift your skills
You can slice a chunk out of your gift budget by gifting skills and favours instead of things. For example, you might gift a house-clean, or a home-cooked meal, or babysitting. People are surprisingly appreciative of the gift of time and energy!
Be thoughtful, not extravagant
Expensive presents are all well and good, but most of us appreciate the thought behind the gift more than the gift itself. A well thought-out (perhaps even homemade) gift which has clearly been chosen with care for and knowledge of the recipient is always better than something more expensive grabbed at random off a shelf.