Though some of us may not mention the “C” word until as late in the year as possible, it is on everyone’s mind at some point…Christmas. In MABS, we begin planning and budgeting for Christmas as early as possible, and we want you to BOSS Christmas with MABS.
If you’re not ready to start planning, let us get the ball rolling for you. Here are 7 quick tips that can help to make Christmas more affordable.
Our research shows that Christmas is usually a time of anxiety and financial stress for many people, and this year is no different. Discussing and planning for Christmas early could help to reduce this potential financial strain. Planning ahead can also make Christmas 2023 a more stress-free time to enjoy with family and friends.
Haven’t made a plan? Start one now – it is never too late to put a plan in place, and by the end of this blog, you’ll know what to put in your plan.
Read on for 7 tips and advice on how to make the most of the festive season.
1. Make a Christmas to-do list
Make a list of what you need to buy for Christmas and use this to create a Christmas budget. Divide the list into 5 categories.
- Unexpected last-minute expenses
Add up all the items on the list. Is it bigger than you expected? If so, look at each item again to see how to reduce the cost. What could you cut from the list? Work your way through, numbering items in order of importance. It’s important to be honest with yourself. Limiting your spending to the most important things on your list is better. This will help to remove or reduce any stress due to overspending.
3. Think of how you spend
Avoid putting purchases on store cards or credit cards or paying by instalment – they may cost you more in the long run. If you use credit, plan to pay it off as early as possible in the New Year. Check out the terms and conditions on any items you purchase through ﬁnance or ﬂexi-rent arrangements, sometimes called Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL). Ever heard the line “the devil is in the detail”? Read the small print on BNPL products to avoid getting caught out. If you feel you must borrow to cover the cost of a Christmas gift or are hit with unexpected costs elsewhere and need to move money around, read our page on ‘Before you borrow’ to ensure it’s the right move.
4. Research your options
Where can you buy these items, and how much do they cost? Check online and in stores for the best price. Remember, some of these items might be part of Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals. Sign up to newsletters for websites where you can get gifts, you may get a discount for signing up or notified when the gifts you need are on special offer. A word of warning here. Marketing teams are very good at making a deal look too good to be true. Be mindful of this, and before you buy, ask yourself 3 things:
- If I buy this item, will it mean to take something off my list and make a saving?
- Do I really need it?
- Am I buying this outside the EU? If so, will I have to pay extra customs or VAT?
5. Suggest a ‘Secret Santa’
Suggest a ‘Secret Santa’ to family and friends or use your hobbies and interests to make homemade decorations, gifts and baked goods. At Christmas, some families do a Secret Santa between couples and get a voucher for a local restaurant. Doing this means you’re supporting local businesses and giving the couple a night out, which they’ll remember!
Talk to friends and relatives about not exchanging gifts or setting spending limits, or spending time together instead. This can help as you may not be the only one struggling with the costs of purchasing gifts for everyone. As children get older, the desired gifts can become more expensive, so talk to family and friends about grouping together to get one more expensive gift from the family. Discuss with parents about giving money to put towards a day out or family activity.
6. Covering the Costs
If you have been able to put aside some money during the year to meet the cost of Christmas, will it be enough to cover the costs you have planned for, or do you need to save a bit more over the coming weeks? If you haven’t been able to save money, there is still time to implement a plan. As of today (Wednesday, 18th Oct), there are 9 weeks and 5 days left; work out how many paychecks you have between now and then and divide your budget by that to see how much you’ll need. Only include income you are 100% sure you will get before Christmas. For example, overtime and bonuses would be great to supplement the cost of Christmas, but not guaranteed.
7. Think Ahead
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 think about it for next year. Thinking ahead can help reduce the stress for the future. 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 to have a record for next year. It’s never too early to plan for next year.
Make memories. Get the kids involved and make learning fun. Instead of spending money on store-bought cards, spend a day or two over a weekend making Christmas cards with the kids. Get everyone involved and send homemade cards to family and friends.
Planning can mean that Christmas is manageable and enjoyable for everyone, including you. Start planning today by making a list of what you need to plan for and a spending budget. Planning now will help to reduce financial surprises.
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.