Save money on Christmas NOW
November is already here, and if you haven’t done anything to prepare for the C word yet, do not despair! In an ideal world you will already have money budgeted, but I know this isn’t always the case. So what can you do to save money on Christmas now? Here are my top tips.
Avoid credit at all costs
In my old job when I was on a lot more money I used to just blow the whole month’s spare cash on Christmas instead of putting it into savings, which is fair enough I suppose.
But looking back it baffles me that I had around £1000 a month spare going into savings for our house, but still had a credit card with a balance of about £3000 on it. My thinking was I could easily pay it off, which I did do regularly, but even so it seems completely illogical looking back. The scary thing now is knowing just how “normal” this has become. According to the Money Advice Trust, over a third of Britons , (or almost 17 million people) will use some sort of credit this Christmas and figures suggest some still expect to be paying it off this time next year. Once you open your eyes to how crazy that seems, it is definitely more motivating to avoid credit by cutting out unnecessary costs.
Create a budget and work out exactly how much you need
Hardly rocket science this one, but it really does work. When setting a budget for anything, a lot of us tend to underestimate how much we spend. I think it is much easier with extended family and friends where most people have a £10-20 limit, but I find with my own partner and daughter spending can creep up considerably.
Overestimating for a budget is always better as then you will have some left over rather than a shortfall.
Once you know how much you need, divide it by 12 and this is the amount you need to be saving each month. Obviously it might be too late to do this now for this year, but even setting aside some money from your next paydays will make a difference.
In my freebies section you can find my birthday and Christmas budgeting spreadsheet to assist with this process.
If you are shocked at the figure, or don’t feel you could afford to save this month each month, then you have to ask yourself – if this is what you are currently spending, where is that money coming from? Which brings me on to the next point…
Consider the areas you could save money on
Without sounding like Scrooge, one of the reasons people overspend at Christmas is getting caught up in buying everything simply “because it’s Christmas”. I would get my hair done and buy a new dress for my work’s party “just because.” I would buy a load of new baubles and Christmas ornaments each year to add to my collection despite already having plenty.
I have to admit, buying whatever we want food wise at Christmas is one of our family indulgences as we grocery shop so carefully the rest of the year, but often due to sell by dates we had overbought and things got wasted.
Everyone’s festive routine is different, but consider ways you could save money on Christmas without spoiling the magic or changing your own traditions.
I had so much to add to this point I’ve turned it into its own post! Read the things I stopped buying at Christmas here.
Be wary of costly “stocking fillers”
I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this – with your partner or children you might spend a significant amount on a large gift and then want to get them a few little bits to open. If you’re not careful those few “little bits” can mount up considerably and 9 times out of 10 they are just something to open on the day and can end up unused – as clutter in your own house! This is harder to curb with young children, although I find I can get stocking fillers quite cheaply in shops like Home Bargains, but it is with my husband that I have definitely gone overboard in the past.
Things I regret buying my husband as they were rarely / never used:
A usb controlled helicopter that was about £25.
A photography book – never been read – around £12.99
Various DVDs over the years, especially those just at the cusp of when Netflix took off and were rarely watched. – around £10-20 each if box sets
Hardback TV tie in coffee table books – hardly read especially once the fad of the programme has gone.
Instead, I try and buy things that I know he wants and will use such as certain console games or clothing. As neither of us spend much money on clothing any more it can be a very welcome gift.
Start researching gifts now
Every family and group of friends is different but if you can ask in advance what people would like it can make life a lot easier to budget in advance and save money on Christmas. Personally, I make a note of brands and items I have in mind for people and then wait for Black Friday weekend to see if there are any offers. Some people are critical of Black Friday, and it is true that there are definitely a lot of bandwagon jumpers trying to whip up a frenzy over £50 off a £600 TV that’s actually been on offer all summer, but this is why doing your price research now will let you know if you are getting a good deal or not.
I follow a simple rule for present buying: – if it’s not on offer and it’s not in danger of selling out, wait for Black Friday. If it’s not on offer on Black Friday weekend, buy it then knowing the chances are it won’t be reduced again before Christmas.
If something is on offer and it’s on budget, buy it now.
The rules are slightly different with children as of course their tastes can change quickly. My daughter has been obsessed with LOL dolls for well over a year now, so I know anything LOL related is a safe bet. I always check Home Bargains as they have so many top brand toys at reduced prices – not so good if children want something very specific, but great for stocking fillers and everything else.
Don’t forget yourself!
Without wanting to sound ungrateful, if you are on a tight budget and receive gifts you don’t particularly want or need, it can be frustrating knowing what that money could have bought you instead.
This can be a tricky issue to discuss in certain families but luckily mine are all on the same page. I usually ask for vouchers from my husband’s family and as everyone spends £20 I get around £80 of vouchers which I usually spend in the Boxing Day sales, or on a treat for myself such as jewellery that I wouldn’t normally buy. In addition to this we get money from my side of the family which I try and save for something such as a spa day.
I do have a few gifts to open as well so I am happy with this balance.
How do you save money on Christmas? Leave me a comment and let me know.