Christmas can be a concerning time when the purse strings are tight. Liz Ranger takes us through her money-saving tips to help us enjoy the season worry-free.
As we’re heading into November it doesn’t seem five minutes ago that we were having our Lockdown summer with garden BBQ’s, staycations and clapping on a Thursday night for those who were going above and beyond during the pandemic.
Now Christmas is on the horizon and there are again many questions – these obviously include the usual ones around plans for the ‘elf on the shelf’ and do we really want to eat brussel sprouts?
However, this year perhaps we are wondering what will a 2020 Christmas look like, and for many, how we are going to afford it?
Christmas can be expensive
For families it can be an expensive time and according to the Bank of England a typical household spends over £800 extra in December and this is predominantly on going out and buying gifts for our family and friends.
We all want to have fun and enjoy the festivities, but the reality is that the cost can come at a price – to the purse and also emotionally.
So here are my top 10 tips to saving money at Christmas…
1. Set a budget
It seems obvious doesn’t it, but when in the shops and caught up in the sparkle we can lose sight of the cost of things. There may also be a temptation this year to spend on some extras to try and make up for a ‘different type’ of Christmas.
Decide how much is in the pot and stick to it.
2. Find money
Having set our budget, we need to consider where the money is coming from. Plan if you are going to add to the pot weekly or buy each week to spread the cost. We know it doesn’t grow on trees, but is there money in your home… things that you could sell? Vouchers or money (in pockets, bags etc.) that have been unused. Have a hunt – you may be surprised!
3. Make a list (and check it twice)
Writing a list and allocating your budget to specific things helps you to know how much you can spend on each item. Be really specific and don’t forget those hidden extras like the wrapping paper, last-minute gift for the neighbour or taxi fare to a night out. Adjust the amounts for each of the items to fit your budget.
4. Be wary of ‘traditions’
Christmas traditions seem to be growing; extensive lights on your house, the elf on the shelf, Christmas eve box, matching pyjamas as well as the stockings. These are all lovely but come at a cost, so choose one or two rather than trying to do them all. Or even find some traditions for 2020 that are free… foraging and making a wreath, a Christmas Day walk, a Christmas game or film.
5. Think differently about presents
Ok, we may not all be nifty crafters like Kirstie Allsopp – but is there something that you can make? A meal or cake for someone to offer a unique present? Consider with the wider family that everyone does the same, or consider a family secret Santa to bring the costs down. Second-hand goods, IOU’s of days out and date nights can all be fun ways to lighten or spread the spending load.
6. Be sensible about deals
We have all seen deals promoted, but do your research and ensure that they are the value that they proclaim. If you get a deal do not be tempted to make up the difference (you have a budget!). Cashback is a great way to save money and I am the Queen of cashback, so use websites or cards that give back on your spend.
7. Remember postage
Christmas cards and gifts can be expensive to send so be aware of last postage dates and get in before them. Look for free delivery on items or, even better, buy local from those small businesses who may need your support even more at this time.
8. Pets won’t hold it against you
I have a pet and yes, a Christmas gift does appear under the tree, but be realistic – here is a cost saving. Their normal chew wrapped up, or a small toy will suffice. Also, be careful that your pet stays safe at Christmas…unexpected vets bills because they have eaten the box of chocolates are not on the budget!
9. Ask people what they need
2020 has been a very different year and actually asking someone what they may need rather than want could help. Be honest about your budget and say that you would like to give them what they need rather than ‘stuff’ that we think they need. It may even just be a coffee and a natter… a listening ear.
10. Be Ho ho ho honest with yourself
Christmas day is a day… be true to yourself and the budget so that you can start 2021 and that long month to the January pay knowing, with peace of mind, that you stuck to it. Do not beat yourself up if you did things differently… you maybe started some new traditions.
Have a super Christmas from Liz and Andy at ARISE, where we help you cut those bills down to size…