How to manage Christmas on a budget

The months of buildup to the big day can really take its toll, but celebrating in a cost-effective way may be easier than you think. Here are our top tips for enjoying Christmas on a budget.

According to the Bank of England, the average UK household spends around £2000[1] per month, however in the run up to Christmas we end up spending at least £500 more on festive activities and purchasing gifts. It sounds like an exaggeration, but we’ve all fallen victim to the odd £8 Christmas Market mulled wine… Haven’t we? The costs surrounding the festive season can often take away the joy and cause a lot of stress, with 1 in 10 Britons[2] saying that they ‘regularly worry’ about money leading up to Christmas. Here are our top money saving tips...

Plan ahead

Sometimes it helps to have everything laid out in front of you. Write down your estimated festive spending alongside your day to day outgoings and adjust your budget accordingly. Seeing what you have and need to spend make sit much easier to create a Christmas savings plan.

Remember that it’s never too late to start squirrelling away a few pounds here and there when possible. This could just be a matter of collecting loose change in a jar, only to be dipped into for stocking fillers, or you could take the step to open a saving account for Christmas (just be sure to check on the terms of the account regarding any restrictions on withdrawal). Regardless of how you go about it, every little really does help and just having a pocket of cash put aside can put your mind at ease.

Research is key

Panic buying can lead to us overspending when there was most likely a saving to be made elsewhere. It’s so easy to give into the hype and get swept along the high street with the masses. It’s common to be told to simply do it all online which certainly has its perks, but for some, a touch of the mad rush is all part of the fun. If you are venturing out, have a quick scan of the internet for deals available in store (think, the annual 3 for 2 sale in Boots), this will help you target the shops with the best offers and not buy the first thing you see.

Popular voucher sites such as Groupon often have great offers on a wide variety of gifts, and experience sites such as Virgin Experiences tend to have great offers, often up to 40% off, on their festive excursions and adventures, shopping smart really can help you save for Christmas!

Be prepared to say no

Being a time for eating, drinking and being merry, spending can add up really quickly without you really noticing. It just takes one diary clash for a pre-Christmas dinner and drinks with friends to descend into four or five smaller (bust just as costly) outings to ensure you’ve celebrated with everyone. The old ‘never mind, it’s Christmas’ chestnut becomes the most used sentence in conversations. Drinks on a Monday? Sure…it is Christmas after all. We’re not suggesting a ‘bah humbug’ approach but it’s worth having a think about whether gatherings can be consolidated or whether you’re up for everything you’re invited to.

The same principle can be applied to gift-giving. Knowing where to draw the line is key. It’s the best feeling being able to treat those close to us, but it’s certainly not the main point of Christmas. If you find yourself struggling to gather gifts for friends of friends and extended family members that you rarely see or speak to, take a minute to think about whether it really is necessary. Could a thoughtful Christmas card do instead? Sometimes you have to say no to yourself as well as others for your own peace of mind.

With the build up to the big event seemingly starting earlier and earlier, it’s totally understandable for the natural concerns about money to creep in simultaneously. However, with a head on approach, you can keep things under your control without feeling like you’re missing out.

[1] - Bank of England [2] - Money Advice Trust

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