Budgeting for Christmas

We all know that Christmas can be a real drain on the finances. If you’re anything like me you go into each festive season thinking this is the year you will be more sensible – the kids don’t need huge amounts of presents, we really don’t need all that food, and really, how much wine can one family drink? But then come mid-December and you might as well just be walking around with a sign saying ‘will work for cheese’. Here are a few tips that might help you enter the new year still in the black.

 

  1. Structure your present-buying: Of course, the best thing to do would be to buy presents throughout the year, thus spreading the cost, but assuming most of you haven’t done that and are suddenly facing the prospect of buying for a list of people as big as your arm, it can help to get a bit of structure. Make a list of everyone you’re buying for and set a budget. Look at options – can you go down the route of secret Santa presents when buying for a group?
  2. Don’t go mad on the kids: They have a huge Christmas list, of course, but most children are genuinely excited by the prospect of presents, and don’t mind too much what’s in them! I remember once being told by another mum that they use the rhyme ‘something to wear, something to read, something you want and something you need’ approach to present-buying. I’ve always liked this though am not sure I could stick to it! Perhaps as a basis it works though – look at things they really will love, rather than just buying everything they have written down after seeing it on an advert!
  3. Look at finance options: Whilst borrowing to pay for Christmas isn’t generally a good idea, looking at no interest , zero-percent options is the way to go if you are considering bigger purchases, such as mountain bike finance to help pay off those dream presents with ease.
  4. Pot Luck Parties: If you are always the host at Christmas, it might be worth dropping some hints to relatives about them bringing something along. The price of hosting Christmas dinner or an evening buffet can really stack up, so even if people just bring their favourite cheese and a bottle of wine, it can help ease the burden.
  5. Look at reward schemes and bank account switching: bank accounts may offer financial incentives to switch at this time of year, and there are lots of reward schemes out there where you can earn money back as you spend.
  6. Sell to buy: Encourage your kids to have a clear-out and have one yourself, then sell your decent outgrown stuff on a local selling page or shopping website. Even if it’s just a few extra pounds, it all counts.

 

The most important thing to remember, is that Christmas is just one day. Don’t ruin your whole year for the sake of food that doesn’t get eaten and presents that are ignored! As enticing as they are, try to avoid adverts selling the perfect Christmas and stick to what’s important: family, friends, showing you care, relaxing and enjoying good company.

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