Despite it coming around every year, Christmas still comes as a shock to the system – but why does is it have to be that way? If you spend each year struggling with your finances once December hits, why not make some changes? While the memory is still fresh in your mind, put a plan in place to make next Christmas more manageable.
Want some help getting started? Here are some useful lessons to learn to make Christmas
2018 easier on your finances.
Don’t leave it until the last minute
With almost a year until next Christmas, you’ve got time to start putting away savings to make sure you have everything you need before December comes around. Spread out over the course of the year; you can put a little aside that you won’t really notice – but will make a huge difference come the end of the year. It can be quite easy to find £100 a month , and even if you went as low as £50 a month, it would still make a difference.
Avoid getting into debt you can’t pay back
The news outlets are always full of stories of those who spend the first six months of the new year paying back their Christmas debts – don’t be one of them. There are ways you can manage your finances easier and avoid getting yourself into debts you don’t fully understand. Many people get confused between the idea of a prepaid card and a payday loan, for example, so it’s important that you familiarise yourself with different financial products. If you do need to take longer to pay things off, make sure you get a plan in place in advance for how you’ll handle your debt repayments.
Get your gift wrap and cards out of the way now
While the January sales can be an excuse to buy a load of things that you don’t need, they can also be a time to buy some useful items that will come in handy for next Christmas. Things like wrapping paper, Christmas cards, gift bags and even your decorations can be bought at rock bottom prices now – so why not be an early bird and put them away somewhere safe for next year?
Set yourself a budget, and stick to it
It’s easy to overspend during the Christmas period – and it can start to get out of control. Setting a Christmas budget allows you to manage how much you spend on presents, food, decorations and so on. If you have a target in mind from the outset, it will make it much easier to stick to. Agree with family and friends a budget in advance, that way there’ll be no pressure to spend a fortune on each other. People are much more comfortable with a gift budget than you think, so don’t be afraid to suggest it.
Suggest a ‘Secret Santa’
One way to cut the cost of Christmas is to reduce the number of gifts you buy. More and more people are using a ‘secret Santa’ type plan to help cut the cost of gift giving. Instead of buying for all members of the family or your friendship circle, everyone puts their name into a hat and buys for that one person. You can set a budget to make it fair and websites like Draw Names are perfect for helping you to complete an online, anonymous draw. You could even suggest that everyone makes a wishlist so that everyone gets something that they really want – something that’s also a great way to stop waste.
Sign up for loyalty schemes
If you’re not already using them, make sure that you sign up to loyalty schemes for stores that you usually shop at. Your regular supermarket, pharmacy and even online stores might offer a loyalty scheme that can allow you to build up points throughout the year, then convert into vouchers to spend at Christmas. It’s worth taking a look at this list of top store reward cards to help see if there are any that you aren’t aware of. Keep them in your wallet or download an app like Stocard , which helps keep them in one easy-access place that you can take with you wherever you go.
Make the most of cashback
Cashback schemes are a fantastic way to earn some extra cash or gift vouchers without having to do much at all. Websites like Topcashback and Quidco offer back a percentage of your online purchases – all you need to do is access your regular shopping destinations through their website. They offer larger cashback rewards for choosing your insurance, mobile phone and TV/broadband provider through them. If you can be disciplined enough to save your cashback until December, you could end up with £100s to go towards your Christmas shopping. It’s also worth referring family and friends, as their referral bonuses can be quite generous.
Make a note of shopping crunch points
Some days of the year are better than others for picking up a deal, and it’s worth putting a note of them in your diary so that you can refrain from doing any shopping until then. If this year’s Black Friday sales were anything to go by, it’s safe to say you could pick up a decent discount on the things on your shopping list. Black Friday tends to be the third Friday in November, so this year’s will be on the 23rd of November, with Cyber Monday following on the 26th of November. Many other stores launch sales on either the 23rd of 24th of December, so if you’re feeling brave, you could always leave your shopping until the last minute – although the risk is yours to take.
If you struggle with your finances or haven’t a clue where to start, then this guide to family finances for beginners could be useful. Rather than let Christmas be a detriment to your finances, take a smarter approach and think about it at the beginning of the year for a less stressful Christmas in 2018.
What Tips do you have to keep Christmas stress free?