Let’s be honest, counting the pennies at Christmas can definitely make you feel like Scrooge. However, with a little bit of preparation and a carefully thought-out plan, you can have a wonderful Christmas without breaking the bank.
Here are a few tips and tricks that you can use to have a financially stress-free Christmas this year:
Create a Christmas budget
This is a lot easier said than done, but without a budget, it’s far too easy to overspend. To help avoid having buyer’s remorse, there are a few key things that you may want to factor into a Christmas-specific budget, such as:
- Nights out
There’s a lot of additions to regular spending around this time of year, which can throw off your normal monthly budgeting (if you do it, of course). By planning ahead, you’ll have a better idea of how much you think you’ll spend and therefore can start to save accordingly. Just don’t forget to give yourself a little wiggle room just in case something really tickles your fancy! After all, we all deserve a little treat sometimes – and especially at Christmas.
Keep a list and check it twice
Knowing who you’re buying for is important – especially if you have a lot of friends and family members who you want to spoil. What’s even more important is agreeing this with others – for example, let your partner know who you’re going to buy for and what you’re planning to get, otherwise you could end up accidentally doubling up on presents for a family member or friend.
Similarly, let your friends know if you are or aren’t buying presents for them – this can avoid that awkward conversation when one friend buys a gift and the other doesn’t. Don’t do that again this year - plan ahead instead! You could even decide to do something fun (and affordable) together rather than buying presents this year.
Take part in a Secret Santa
While you’re planning ahead, why not think about organising a Secret Santa for you and your friends? Not only can this be a lot of fun – when else can you sneakily buy people random gifts to delight or embarrass them? – but it could save you a lot of money too.
For example, if you have 10 friends in a Secret Santa and your budget is £20 for a present, then you only have to buy for one friend – saving you £180 if you normally spend £20 on each of your mates. That’s basically the cost of a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and courses!
Share the load
Speaking of Christmas dinner, it can be a whole lot of work – not to mention a really big cost for the host, so why don’t you look at sharing the load this year? You could suggest that your guests bring a starter or dessert with them, or maybe some nibbles and drinks for everyone to tuck into. Basically, the more people you have coming, the more of the load you can share.
Not only does this make it significantly cheaper for the host, but it can be so much less stressful too – there’s nothing quite like balancing cooking, timing, and hosting to ruin the Christmas spirit!
Keep an eye out for deals
If you are going to be buying presents for a lot of people – which is very common if you have lots of friends or family members with kids – then it can pay off to keep an eye out for deals and special offers. We’re not necessarily talking about Black Friday deals here either - many retailers have offers throughout the year such as three for two (perfect for when you’re tired of thinking of what to get them!).
It’s also worth checking the market and doing a bit of research to find the best price available – but remember, if it looks too good to be true, then it may well be! That said, don’t forget to also look for second-hand options where available – you can often find great deals in charity shops or on online market websites like eBay, so you could find great presents at a much lower cost.
Use the season to your advantage
Christmas could also be a great time to make money off things that you no longer use. Over half of us will receive presents we don’t want this year, but interestingly many people will simply keep them! In fact, only 11% of people will sell them on, while a further 10% choose to exchange them – that’s only slightly more than the 6% of people who throw them away.
This Christmas, instead of putting up with your unwanted gifts, why not put them up for sale? If you have things you’ve kept from previous years then you could even try to sell them before Christmas rolls round this year and help someone else get a cheaper present while you get a nice little bit of extra cash in your account.
Saving in advance
It might be a little late for this year, but one idea to kick off the New Year could be to put money aside each month ready for Christmas. According to the Bank of England, Brits typically spend an additional £740 in December. That can be a lot to come out of a single pay check, but if you split it over the other 11 months of the year then you’d just need to tuck away £62 to have your Christmas covered.
Planning for the longer term can be a good way to help prepare for the future – whether that’s thinking about next Christmas in January (maybe even earlier) or looking at your pension when retirement is still years away. When it comes to building up your savings, time can be your friend.
Gifting money (or investing)
Buying presents for little ones can be difficult. Not only do they change their mind and outgrow toys so quickly, but many of these toys are made from plastic and will end up in a landfill within a year. So, why not think about paying into a Junior ISA for them instead of buying them another toy. With Wealthify, our children’s ISAs allow contributions from friends and family members, helping to supercharge their savings until they’re 18 – so they could get something they’ll really appreciate when they’re old enough to access the money, like their first car or a holiday with friends.
Remember, investing may offer more potential than a traditional savings account, but your capital is at risk. That means that the value of your child’s JISA can go down as well as up, so they could get back less than was invested for them.
Our family and friend Junior ISA payments could make finding the perfect Christmas present that little bit simpler – removing time, hassle, and waste while helping to build for their future. All the parent has to do is invite someone to be a contributor to their little one’s Junior ISA and they can start paying in as often as they want – so it could be something they do every year and not just this Christmas.
Christmas can be expensive, or it can be cheap - it all depends on your expectations. Try to be realistic and budget based on your means – there’s no point putting yourself into debt getting a present for someone if statistically there’s only a 50% chance they’ll actually want it.
Set your expectations around your Christmas holiday and try not to be swayed by social media or peer pressure to buy things you don’t or can’t afford. And, if you’re ever in doubt, refer back to your holiday budget and see if you’ve got it planned in.
With investing, your capital is at risk, so the value of your child’s investments can go down as well as up, which means they could get back less than what has been invested for them.