We’re into November already and with Christmas only weeks away it can be a daunting time when thinking about the cost of presents, food, parties and more.
Here are a few tips to help you stay in the black this Christmas and avoid the post-Christmas overdraft.
1. Budget, budget, budget
You can’t stick to a budget if you don’t make one so sit down and work out what you can afford: 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.
2. Make a plan and stick to it!
Don’t just pop out to the shops for a spot of Christmas shopping or impulse buy – if you don’t have a plan you may get distracted with presents you don’t really need to buy. Take a very specific shopping list with you with a list of items and people to buy for, as well as your budget per item – and stick to it.
Before you hit the shops go online and find out where you can get the best price for your chosen item. 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. Look out for vouchers and sales
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 and keep an eye out for pre-Christmas sales such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where discounted goods are available for only a few days.
5. Ditch the Christmas cards
Did you send out hundreds of Christmas cards last year? Did you still get cards back from all the people you sent to? Are you sure the addresses are all still correct? Consider culling your Christmas card list if it’s costing lots of money in postage – sending e-cards is free and might be preferred by some friends and family. If you still want to send cards you needn't spend a fortune - look out for bulk deals if you have lots to send.
6. Secret Santa can reduce your expenditure
If your budget is under pressure from the vast number of people you need to buy for, try sitting down with your friends and family 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 gifts for everyone.
7. Don’t leave anything till the last minute
Leaving things until the last minute can make Christmas more expensive – last minute online shopping can result in express shipping costs and lack of time to purchase presents can result in panic buys which are often more than you would like to pay.
8. Lose the little extras
Another way to cut the cost of Christmas is to make cutbacks on the less noticeable items - napkins, wrapping paper (try making your own), wreaths on the door or new decorations – reuse and recycle last year's decorations and save pennies.
9. Swap to supermarket own brands
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. Researching your cheapest supermarket too could save you pounds off your food shop.
10. Plan for next year
Before you sit back and finish off the last mouthful of Baileys start thinking about next year – a little bit of forward planning could leave you in a much better position next year. How about opening a savings account and setting aside a little bit of money each month so you have money saved for next year or if you've got the space to store it all, make the most of the January sales and stock up on discounted presents, cards, wrapping paper and decorations. They cost a fraction of the price in January and will save you a job next December.