Yes, I mentioned the ‘C’ word! I’m sorry, but at the time of publishing, there are only 89 days until Christmas (I found out by using this pretty cool countdown clock!). While it’s too late for me to share the numerous money-saving tips I have that can be used for planning next year’s Xmas, (fear not, that will appear in a later article), here are some things that you can do to make Christmas 2017 just that bit easier:
Make A Budget!
Really, this is THE most important thing you can do:
1) Look at what money you’re expecting to come in over the next few weeks or months (depending on how often you get paid) and what you know has to be paid out and write down what you have leftover to save each week/month.
2) Think about what you would expect to spend on Xmas this year, not forgetting all of the food, possible nights out for work parties, kids’ school parties, entertaining at home, Secret Santa gifts, wrapping paper, cards, alcohol, basically anything that you usually shell out for, (not to mention the gifts you buy) and tot it all up. Divide that total cost by the number of pay-cheques you’re getting and you’ll see how much you’ll have to save each week/month to be able to achieve the spending you’d like to do without going (or going further) into debt. Write that number down.
3) Finally, compare the amount you came up with in step one with the amount needed to be saved in step two. Is there a discrepancy? Will you have less to spend than you’d hoped? If so, then you’ll either have to make cuts in your discretionary spending leading up to Xmas, reduce what you spend on Xmas or find a way to bring in extra money before Xmas, plus, check out the next tip:
Cut Down On Who You Buy For:
This isn’t easy and may require a few conversations with people, but there really is no law that says you have to buy your child’s teacher a gift each Xmas, or that you must buy that cousin you don’t really like a present, as well as all of her children, just because she buys you all something you don’t want or need each December. If you can’t afford to, don’t want to, or it’ll push you further into debt, just decide to stop. It’s much easier than you might think. Focus on your family and your financial peace of mind. If you really can’t say no to people then consider the next tip:
Some people groan at the thought of this, but it can be much easier than you think. Everybody has some sort of skill or service they can offer. Are you a knitter? Then look at Pinterest for cool knitting ideas, such as a mug cosy pattern (buy a cheap mug for 75p and fill it with marshmallows) that won’t take long to create. Don’t possess a creative bone in your body? That’s ok! Offer a new mum an afternoon where you’ll hold her baby and do some laundry while she grabs a shower or maybe takes a nap. Wrack your brains for what you can offer and know that whilst people rarely remember what you’ve bought them, they’ll always remember the time you’ve spent with or on them. If they don’t appreciate you for it, then you might reconsider why you’d give a gift for them in the first place.
This is something that most office workers will be very familiar with. It usually involves receiving some useless but hilarious gift from an unknown colleague, but the idea can also be extended to family and friends. If it’s a completely new concept to you, it basically just involves a group of people putting their names into a ‘hat’, everybody taking a name and without telling anybody else, buying that person a gift. A price is set for the gift (an amount everyone agrees on) and by Xmas, the gifts are all put together (labelled, obviously), and passed out to the correct recipient. In this way, everybody gets a gift and everybody only has one gift to buy. It can save a fortune.
Yes, I really said that! When you say ‘second-hand’ to some people. they envisage smelly and horrible clothes from a charity shop, but come on, don’t be a snob, there are so many beautiful, gently used items to be had both in shops and online (it’s what eBay was built on after all!). It’s a great way to give somebody something you’d never usually be able to justify buying brand new and it also keeps those things from going into landfill. A double win!
These were introduced by inventor Sir Henry Cole in 1843, who had helped to bring about the penny post three years previously (a coincidence?) and whilst I can see the value in posting a card to somebody you’re not going to see over the Xmas period, and who you’d really like to keep being reminded of the fact you care about them by the presence of a card on their mantelpiece, I don’t see the point in writing a bajillion cards and handing them to people you are going to see right up to the big day, or posting numerous cards to people who you never have any sort of contact with from one Xmas card to the next. It’s a massive waste of money, resources and who knows if the recipients even want the hassle of finding somewhere to put the cards, let alone the mountain of recycling they have to add to in the New Year (that’s if they don’t just throw them into the normal waste – shudder!).
There are ecards, email, instant messaging, texts, a whole host of social media and even the old telephone call that can replace sending a card. All are either free or very cheap and you’ll probably say more to the person you’re contacting. ‘But I like to support my favourite charity by buying cards!’ you cry, well then you’ve got to read this 2015 article.
Whenever I’ve not made a proper plan for eating over the festive season, I’ve invariably gone overboard with how much food I’ve bought. I’m guessing I’m not alone with this.
If you’re fed up buying food that spoils, are sick of turkey and even chocolate (you’d have to be MENTAL), then before you shop, plan out how many of those days off work you’re planning on eating differently to your usual week then plan what you’d like to eat for breakfast (even if it’s a chocolate orange), lunch, dinner, snacks, and booze, and what you know your family and/or guests will likely want to eat and buy only that.
If you are having guests, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask them to bring some food or drink that will travel well and if it’s all getting too expensive, consider just one day of feasting. Not only will it help your wallet, but your waist will probably thank you for it too.
Finally, if nobody likes Xmas pudding, sprouts or turkey, etc, just don’t buy them purely in the name of tradition!
What do YOU do to save money on Christmas? What’s your biggest festive, financial regret?
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