For a lot of families, Christmas is the most expensive time of the year. Buying gifts, food, and decorations can cost a great deal and, if money is tight to begin with, you might be worried about how you’re going to make ends meet. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways in which you can save money this festive season. Here, we’ll explain how you get the most out of your Christmas budget.
Devise a budget before planning your perfect Christmas
Many people make the mistake of planning their ideal Christmas first, and working out how they’ll afford it afterwards. When money is tight, this is a recipe of disaster. You should always outline your budget first, as this will help to ensure that your spending won’t get you into trouble.
Work out how much money you have to spend, then decide how much of this you would like to devote to gifts, food, decorations, and anything else you’re going to need. It’s important that you try to stick to your budget as closely as possible, and keep track of your spending as you go. This will mean that, if you overspend in one area, you can make an effort to cut costs in another.
If you aren’t sure where to start, the Money Advice Service has a fantastic Christmas money planner that will help you to get your finances in order. It will help you to work out how much you’ll have to spend, and where your money should go.
Make a shopping list and stick to it
Before you buy a single gift or any food for your Christmas dinner, make a shopping list that includes every last thing you’re going to need. From this, you’ll be able to work out how much you’re going to spend in the weeks leading up to the big day. It will also help you to feel in control, and should reduce the chance of encountering any surprise costs.
Tesco has a printable checklist of all the food and drink you might want to pick up in the lead up to Christmas. Of course, you won’t need absolutely everything that they suggest, but it can serve as a great guide if you’re worried about forgetting anything.
Don’t overdo it with the decorations
We all get the urge to transform our homes into a winter wonderland when December finally rolls around, but this can cost you a lot of money. So, instead, think about what decorations you actually need to give your home a festive and cosy feel this Christmas.
Of course, you’ll want a beautifully decorated tree. It can be tempting to load it up with as many baubles as it can hold, but you’ll be surprise how lovely your tree can look when you’re more restrained with your decorating. If you aren’t sure how many baubles you need, Wyevale Garden Centres has a tally up your tree tool, which will calculate how many decorations you need depending on its height.
Don’t send unnecessary gifts
Many of us have gotten into the habit of swapping unnecessary gifts with people outside of our immediate family and close circle of friends. If you’re already worried about the cost of Christmas, this can be an additional expense that you could do without. If you’re in this position, it’s time to be honest with people and explain your situation. Chances are they’ll be very understanding, and might even be grateful to have one less obligation this Christmas.
Consider Secret Santa
If you can’t afford to buy presents for all of the special people in your life, consider organising a game of Secret Santa. If you aren’t familiar with the idea, Secret Santa requires a group of people — perhaps your family, colleagues, or group of friends — to put their names into a hat. Then, everyone picks out one name and that’s who they have to buy a Christmas present for. As well as saving you money, this will give you much more time, money, and freedom to buy your recipients high-quality gifts that they’ll actually enjoy.
If slips of paper and a hat are too old-fashioned for you, try using this free online Secret Santa organiser. Once you’ve entered everyone’s names and email addresses, the tool will send every participant a message with the name of the person they need to buy for. It’s that easy!
Use cashback sites when buying presents
If you don’t use cashback sites when you’re shopping you could be missing out on some great savings. Websites like TopCashback and Quidco will pay you whenever you click through their sites to purchase products from a retailer that they have an agreement with. You can make hundreds of pounds throughout the year, and Christmas is a great time to take advantage of these schemes.
Simply sign up for an account on these cashback sites. Then, whenever you see a gift that you’re interested in buying for a loved one, you can check to see if there’s an opportunity to earn cashback from your purchase. If you click through to the retailer from the cashback site this will be tracked and, if you buy anything, money will be put into your cashback account once the transaction has been completed. After a set amount of time, you’ll be able to withdraw this.
Take advantage of Black Friday deals
Over the last few years, Black Friday has grown to out-perform Boxing Day in terms of how many people get out of the house to grab a bargain. In fact, it’s become a huge shopping event that has grown to span an entire week, and you can pick up almost anything at a reduced price.
This year, Black Friday will fall on November 24 so, if you take full advantage of the sales, you could be finished with your shopping a whole month before Christmas. Metro already has a guide to getting the best deals this Black Friday, which will point you in the direction of where you’re likely to save the most money.
Nobody wants to be stressed about money over the festive period. By taking these tips on board you’ll be able to save plenty, so you can relax and enjoy Christmas to the full.