High street stores have been displaying Christmas goodies for weeks
and retailers are surely hoping that the festive season will sparkle
despite the crunch.
But does Christmas have to be costly? If you are facing bigger bills
than a year ago, there's plenty you can do to minimise the financial
hangover this yuletide.
Last year in the UK, the average family spent over £500 on presents*.
So, clearly this is a good place to start if you want to reduce the
Christmas outlay. First of all, set a budget. According to a survey**,
failure to set a budget is the main cause of overspending.
So, rather than spontaneous sprees, allocate an amount for gift-giving
and stick to it. Here are some ideas to help you stay on track:
- Talk to your family and friends and call a halt to the gift exchanging
- Only buy presents for the children
- Try 'Secret Santa' - put all the names of your friends or colleagues
into a hat and ask everyone to pick just one to buy a present for
- Compare prices in store and online to see where the best deals are
- Avoid borrowing on credit and store cards
- Give homemade presents, such as cakes and crafts
- Send e-cards
Deck the halls with lots of money?
Don't forget to allocate a fund for additional costs, such as food,
decorations and parties. Remember to recycle, too - an artificial tree
can last for years and, apart from the edible ones, decorations can be
packed away and reused time and time again, too.
If you're catering for a large group over the festive season, ask your guests for contributions of food, wine and trimmings.
Despite the lure of glittering shop windows, there are many activities
during Christmas that don't cost a thing. Check out your local paper for
listings of special events, such as carols with a brass band and the
switching on of Christmas lights. You could take your kids on a tour of
light-soaked houses in your area and spend time making cards for their
teachers and friends.
Party at home
Crowded bars, long queues and pubs charging for entry. Going out over
Christmas and New Year isn't all it's cracked up to be. Why not invite
your friends or neighbours round for wine and mince pies? You could save
a packet and you won't be waiting around for a taxi at the end of the
Save year round
Rather than rely on your December pay packet, why not put a little aside
every month to cover the cost of Christmas? The regular saver account
from Teachers Building Society offers an attractive interest rate and
includes a 1% bonus for the first 12 months. The minimum monthly
investment is just £10.
Whatever you do this Christmas, have a merry one!
For more money saving tips check out our article, surviving the credit crunch.