Isn’t Christmas great, we wait all year for it to come, only for it to be gone in a blink of an eye. The trouble is before you know it it’s here again and you haven’t even recovered from the financial hangover of Christmas before you did it all over again.
The weight of expectation can and often does make it an expensive time of year, what with buying presents, the work nights out, the food on Christmas day and the boxing day drinks and of course you have to have extra in just on the off chance that someone comes around uninvited.
As great as Christmas is, it isn’t worth getting into debt for.
It wasn’t long ago that my wife and I would go all out at Christmas and spend a small fortune on Christmas gifts for each other and treat ourselves to a Marks and Spencer three course Christmas Dinner, but with a change in our circumstances comes with it a change in the way that we do Christmas.
I’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts that I believe are easy to carry out and will save you from the financial headache that Christmas can sometimes bring with it.
Do make a list of everyone that you need to buy for and then cut it
Not everyone needs or necessarily deserves a present at Christmas. Santa certainly has it right by making a list and checking it twice.
Do have an idea of what your budget is
Just because it’s Christmas, doesn’t mean you have to budget. With the list that you have already made and cut above, write own what you are going to spend on that person and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to deviate from budget, doing so will only put you in a financial situation you’re trying to avoid.
Do record what you spend
It can be easy to get swept up with all the festivities. Shops fix up their shop windows to entice you in and bang, it’s like you’re taken back to your own childhood and nothing is off limits, best of all no one is telling you that you can’t have what you want.
Use your phone, use a pen and paper whatever it is use decide log what you spend to make sure that you’re sticking to that budget.
If that doesn’t work, use cash. You might not believe it but it is still printed and can help a ton when it comes to budgeting as you can physically see what you have left because plastic can just seem like a limitless pot of cash, that is until the statement comes through the post.
Do buy your gifts when they are at their cheapest
Take advantage of the January sales and any other big promotion that your intended recipient shops at, it might mean joining their mailing list but if it saves you a bit of money, it’s well worth it. If you don’t want to be inundated with special offers, why not set up an email address especially for special occasions or just unsubscribe whenever you’ve made your purchase.
Do put some money aside every week
The idea of putting £20 aside or more every week might seem achievable but making a commitment to save in itself can help.
You could try the penny saving challenge, maybe commit to putting an affordable amount away every week. Yes, It might mean foregoing your morning take out coffee or making your lunch and it might not pay for all of your Christmas but a few hundred in your pocket can go a long way to making it a loss less stressful.
Do re gift
We’re going to get something from someone we don’t like regardless of how much we tell the giver how much we like it. Instead of having it gathering dust somewhere, why not give it to someone else. Just because it wasn’t to your taste doesn’t mean that it won’t be to anyone else’s.
Do use cashback websites
It’s easy to overlook cashback sites, due to the uncertainty of payouts and the low cashback offers provided by some retailers but that doesn’t mean that you should disregard them totally. While they can sometimes take awhile to pay out if you preferred retailer or retailers are listed the potential for savings are huge.
And now for the don’ts
Don’t use Christmas savings clubs
I know that Christmas savings clubs might work for some but I just don’t see the advantage in using them. Yes your money is tied in and you can’t get at it if you are one of those people that are easily tempted to dip your hand in the cookie jar when the mood takes you but you’re money isn’t protected, you are limited as to where you might be able to use the gift cards or vouchers that you sent to spend and you’re not making any interest on any money that you do put into them.
Don’t succumb to expectation
You can’t please everyone all the time and it’s not worth bothering. Remember its your Christmas too and you have every right to enjoy it the way that you want to. So what that you haven’t bought the latest tablet or phone. Interest would have been lost in any gift that you buy every quickly
Don’t buy more than you are actually going to use
Do you really need the extra bottles of your favourite plonk or really need a turkey that can feed the 5,000. Christmas leftovers are great but if the idea of eating Christmas lunch for the next five days only buy what you need.