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10 Tips To Help You Budget This Christmas

Nov 20, 2014

Christmas is a time to give and be merry. Unfortunately it comes at a cost with a pile of presents to buy and wrap, not to mention the food, decorations and a special outfit for the Christmas party – so here are 10 top tips to help you stay in the black this Christmas and avoid the post-Christmas overdraft.

1. Make a budget

You can’t stick to a budget if you don’t make one so sit down and work out what you can afford to spend this Christmas. Start with the basics - how much money do you have coming in before Christmas and what do you need to spend it on: list all the names of people you need to buy for and don’t forget all the extras such as decorations, Christmas dinner and alcohol. Once you know everything you need to buy, split how much money you have into each category and assign an amount to each item.

2. Plan your shopping trips
Don’t just pop out to the shops for a spot of Christmas shopping – if you don’t have a plan you may get distracted with lovely presents you don’t really need to buy. Take your shopping list of items and people to buy for, as well as your budget – and stick to it.

3. Go online to find the best price
Before you hit the shops go online and find out where you can get the best price for what you're buying. If you don’t recognise the website name then check it out before making a purchase - see if you can find some reviews but if you remain unsure, stick to a website you feel safe purchasing on.

4. Hunt out the vouchers
While you are on the internet trying to find the best price, have a look to see if there are any vouchers that could cut your shopping bill.

5. Cull your Christmas card list
If you would rather not spend as much as you did last year, consider culling your Christmas card list. Do you still get cards back from all the people you send to? Are you sure the addresses are all still correct?  You needn't spend a fortune on cards either, look out for bulk deals if you have lots to send.

6. Take part in a Secret Santa
If your budget is under pressure from the number of people you need to buy for  try sitting down with your friends and discussing whether a Secret Santa might help you all save money. You all put your name into a hat and everyone picks one name out – you then only have to buy one gift for that person, rather than lots of gifts for everyone.

7. Avoid last-minute costs
Leaving things until the last minute can make Christmas more expensive – if shopping online leaving it too late results in express shipping costs and lack of time to buy presents results in panic buys which are often more than you would like to pay.

8. Cut corners
Another way to cut the cost of Christmas is to make cutbacks on the less noticeable items - napkins, wrapping paper (make your own), wreaths on the door or new decorations – reuse and recycle last year's decorations and save pennies.

9. Save on food
If you currently buy several branded items then look to buy supermarket own brands instead - taste a few cheaper alternatives and see if you can save some pennies on your food bill.
10. Plan for next year

Before you sit back and drink the last glass of the Christmas Sherry think about next year –a little bit of forward planning could leave you in a much better position next December. How about opening a savings account and setting aside a little bit of money each month so you have a bit more to spend next year or if you've got the space to store it all, make the most of the January sales and stock up on cards, wrapping paper and decorations. They cost a fraction of the price in January and will save you a job next December.

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