We all know that Christmas is the most expensive holiday of the year. Whilst the build-up to the festive season can be magical and full of fun, it can also be a drain on our finances, and this can add to the stress of preparing for the Big Day. This year households may be even further out of pocket, as UK inflation has surged to a 10-year high of 4.2 per cent.
If you are worried about the cost of the coming month, we have come up with a few ideas to help you spend a little less. From food to presents – there are ways to save money this Christmas and still have all the fun.
We are sharing ways to spend less this Christmas and NOT go into debt! Even if you only manage to use a couple of our tips, that can still go a long way!
Make a list – and check it twice
Yes, you’ve read it right. Make a list of everything you need to buy, from gifts, to travel and food shopping. Take your time and make sure you think of everything, as it’s so easy to get carried away at Christmas, buying presents as you see them and then panicking at the last minute and buying more.
Once you’ve got your list, we can look at the budget.
Plan your budget
The easiest way of making sure you don’t spend too much at Christmas is to set out a budget and stick to it. Before you start shopping, decide how much money you want to spend. Think through all the different aspects of holiday shopping: gifts, travel, food, decorations. It’s easy to get caught up in Christmas spending, but it’s important to have a budget and to stick to it.
There are a few budget calculators out there like the MoneySuperMarket Christmas Saving Calculator, which can help plan your budget better.
Remember that your friends and family may well be in the same situation as you when it comes to being financially stretched at Christmas. It might be a good idea to speak to some of them and see if you can set a spending limit or even spilt the cost on some of the things.
A lot of people are starting to opt for a Secret Santa when it comes to buying gifts. Yes, it does sound like something you would do for your work colleagues or children at school, but this emerging trend can save you a fortune, especially if you must buy a gift for every member of your family or friend group.
Use your store cards
If you shop somewhere regularly, always collect loyalty points. A lot of shops have loyalty cards where you can collect points. Shops like Boots, Sainsbury’s and Holland and Barrett all have store cards which you can use not only for grocery shopping, but the points can be exchanged for toiletries, toys, kids’ clothes and more.
You can also sign up for online newsletters and download their apps on your phone. A lot of times they send offers just for members!
Make your own decorations
There is so much that you can do with a few trips to the woods and picking up natural materials like holly and pinecones, some ribbon, coloured paper, and oranges. If you search online for DYI Christmas decorations, from Christmas wreaths to wood stick stars, so much to choose from! And they might not cost you a thing.
Search your house for things you can use, you’d be surprised what you might find!
Be strict with your food shopping
Christmas food and drink shop are one of the biggest expenses during the holiday season. We overbuy because we want to treat everyone and make sure no one goes hungry. But that comes at a price.
The best way to avoid overspending is by creating a food list. Make a list of all the meals you are planning on making and stick to it. It’s easy to get excited and start buying extra boxes of chocolates, just because they are on offer.
Don’t be duped into buying more food than you need. If a ‘buy one, get one free’ offer is genuinely good value for you, go for it, but don’t buy it just because it’s on offer when you don’t need it.
If you do overbuy, try to think of all the meals you can create with the leftovers. January can be a difficult month financially, so finding some ready-made meal options in the freezer could be helpful a few weeks after the festivities. Have a look at some leftover recipes here.
Also, avoid paper plates and plastic cups. Not only do they cost money, but they are bad for the environment. If you’re stressing about all the washing up after the meal, get the children to help and make it a fun game! Plus, there’s always someone who will offer to help.
Create traditions rather than buying gifts
We’ve all been stuck indoors for far longer than we all expected due to coronavirus and a lot of us have missed the social interactions and just being out and about with loved ones.
So, this year think about giving a different type of gift by creating traditions and special moments that bring the family together, rather than just buying gifts. It’s a great way to save money and create lifelong memories.
Whether it is a winter walk or a day out, watching a particular movie every year, or having a games night, it is about doing something unique that you can revisit year after year.
Do you feel like treating yourself because, well, it’s Christmas? The self-giving trend has been on the rise in recent years with people buying gifts for themselves when they are out getting gifts for others. Try to remember that you will get gifts from others and this can be quite a costly gift!
If you’ve ever waited until the last minute to get things sorted, then you know how stressful it can get. Therefore, starting your Christmas preparations early is an easy way to make sure your finances don’t get overwhelmed by the time the festive period rolls around.
If you start buying earlier, you can find some amazing deals. A lot of supermarkets and online shops have offers especially around Black Friday, which might help you spend less. But try not to think that just because you bought something cheaper, now you can buy more – just stick to your list.
Get creative with the gifts
You don’t have to purchase every gift that you give people. Instead of buying something for everyone, create the gift yourself when you can.
You don’t have to be a baker or an artist to create something amazing, plus homemade gifts tend to be perceived as a more heartfelt gesture by the important people in your life. And with all the tutorial videos you can find on the internet, you can find something for you to create. From candle making and baking cookies to creating a personalised photo frame!
You can also look into buying a second-hand gift. Second-hand markets and charity shops have some amazing gifts. Its sustainable, helps the environment, and a lot of people see it as the best way to buy gifts.
But it doesn’t have to be a physical gift either. Rather than buying a gift, you can help a friend or a loved one in other ways. Maybe you have an older or disabled loved one that can’t get around very well. You can help them by doing household chores, gardening, or running errands for them.
Avoid credit cards and store cards
The whole idea of doing Christmas on the budget is to avoid using credit or store cards. We all know how tempting they are, but with interest rates as high as 29.9%, it’s best to avoid them altogether.
If you stick to your budget there should be no need for a credit card – even online purchases can be made with your regular bank debit card.
But if you must get one, make sure you pick one that’s most suitable for you, preferably zero interest ones. You can find out more about zero interest credit cards here.
Christmas cards alternatives
Are Christmas cards necessary? And they are certainly not cheap if you’d like to buy nice ones. So, unless you know someone who will certainly keep their card, sending an e-card, which is more eco-friendly or getting children to create some is a much better option – plus everyone is more likely to keep a homemade cardChri
Be smart about delivery and combine your orders
When shopping online, always look for free delivery or ways to make it as cheap as possible, as deliveries do add up. A lot of shops offer free delivery if you spend a certain amount, which sometimes might be worth it. You can even ask a friend or a family member if they need something from the same shop so you can purchase it together.
Always check if the shop does click and collect from your local shop option – they are usually free and don’t require a minimum order.
Remember the true meaning
It’s easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas when we’re busy buying gifts and trying to make everything perfect. But let’s slow down and remember that Christmas is about happiness and being able to spend time with friends and family.