12 Steps to make Christmas more affordable


🎵 On the 12th Day of Christmas, my budget had for me 🎵 

Some might say that Christmas comes around quicker and quicker every year, and it certainly has the knack of creeping up on us. It’s important to remember this time of the year can fill many of us with anxiety and worry about how much it will cost. With this in mind, we’ve pulled together the 12 steps of Christmas with helpful guidance on taking control of the festive season. 

Our research shows that Christmas is usually a time of anxiety, especially when it comes to our finances. Planning for Christmas early could help to reduce this potential financial strain. Being prepared and planning can also make Christmas 2022 a more affordable and stress-free time to enjoy with family and friends. 

Research (PDF)


Twelve Steps of Christmas 

The first step of Christmas… make a list and try your best keep to it. 

Try not to be tempted by sales or special offers – unless it’s on your list and you can tick it off. Be a savvy shopper – having a list and a plan can mean you achieve value while also checking off the shopping list. Remember, it is not a deal if you don’t need it or won’t use it! 


The second step of Christmas… hyped-up sales events. 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become popular days for in-store or online sales – but sales often start before this and can continue into December. It is easy to get caught up in the hype and marketing about Christmas  


The third step of Christmas… buying online. 

If buying online or pre-ordering an item, ensure that it will be delivered on time. Also, make sure to check delivery costs and be sure to check if there will be custom charges if ordering online particularly from the UK. Some retailers will offer free postage when you spend over a certain amount. So purchasing something extra could mean free shipping, but remember, try to buy something you will use. Perhaps a gift for someone on your list or something you need for Christmas day.  


The fourth step of Christmas… consider timing. 

Check delivery times for items bought online and the return or exchange policy. Be aware of rights and entitlements when shopping online within the EU and outside the EU (remember that includes the UK now). 


The fifth step of Christmas… keep receipts safe. 

Keep all receipts together – you may need to create a separate folder in your email inbox to save all emailed receipts. A handy tip for gifts you buy in a store is to take a photo of the receipt using your phone before putting it away or store the receipt with the gift until you wrap it. Ask for a gift receipt, as some retailers have an extended returns policy over the festive season.  

Note that most retailers will only accept a physical or gift receipt for returns. The photo is for your records.  


The sixth step of Christmas… avoid putting it on plastic. 

Avoid putting purchases on store credit cards or paying by instalment – they may cost you more in the long run. If you use credit, work on paying it off as early as possible in the New Year.  


The seventh step of Christmas…consider the small print. 

Check out the terms and conditions on any items you purchase through finance or ‘flexi-rent’ arrangements, sometimes referred to as Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL). Ever heard the line “the devil is in the detail”? Read the small print on BNPL products, so you don’t get caught out. 


The eighth step of Christmas… it will be over before you know it. 

Remember the shops only close for 1 or 2 days over Christmas, so there is no need for the bigger than normal shop, aside from the Christmas Dinner – again, making a list can help here. Buy small amounts of non-perishable items weekly to add to the Christmas treats.  


The ninth step of Christmas… shop local. 

Shop local and ask if they offer a deposit scheme, layaway, or allow you to pay in instalments. This can help to spread the cost and also means you are supporting the local economy. Win-win! 


The tenth step of Christmas… it’s never too early or too late to start planning. 

Think ahead and start budgeting for next year. Keep a note or record of your spending this year. What are you spending most of your money on? Can you identify areas to make savings next year? Keep receipts and notes in an envelope or on your phone, so you have a record for next year. It’s never too early to plan for next year.  


The eleventh step of Christmas… savings clubs to ease the burden. 

Join Christmas saving clubs or save cash-back vouchers from supermarkets to put towards Christmas food shopping. It might be a bit late for this year, but remember you can do this all year round, so maybe think about it for next year too! 


The twelfth step of Christmas… relax, enjoy, and make memories. 

The festive season is for you, so don’t forget to relax and enjoy. With a bit of planning, being conscious of your budget, and setting limits, this festive season can be enjoyable and memorable for all the right reasons. 


Have you got Christmas planning tips to share? Let us know at @MABSinfo on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. 

You can call the MABS National Helpline on 0818 07 2000 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 8pm, WhatsApp 086 035 3141 or find the contact details for your local office.