Do you feel like Christmas gets earlier each year? Well, you’re not alone. However, planning early for one of the most expensive times of the year can help keep the cost down and festive cheer up!
Our research shows that Christmas is a time of anxiety and financial stress, and this year is no different. Discussing and planning for Christmas early could help to reduce the potential financial strain while making Christmas 2021 a stress-free and relaxing time to unwind with family.
You may have started your shopping already. This is good and can help to spread the cost of the festive season. It’s important that you are keeping a list of what you have bought to add to your overall plan. 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.
- 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
- Prioritise– Add up all the items on the list. Is it bigger than you expected? If so, look at each individual item again to see how you can reduce the cost if you have a limited amount of money to spend, 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. It is better that you limit your spending to the most important things on your list than to be stressed and suffering from anxiety as a result of over-spending.
If you feel you must borrow to cover the cost or are hit with unexpected costs elsewhere and need to move money around, read our page before you borrow to ensure it’s the right move.
- 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 the 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?
- Suggest a ‘Secret Santa’to family and friends or use your hobbies and interests to make homemade decorations, gifts and baked goods. Some families that do a Secret Santa between couples and get a voucher for a local restaurant or Doing this means that you’re supporting local business and gives the couple a night out too, which they’ll remember!
- Alternative to a ‘Secret Santa’, talk to friends and relatives about not exchanging gifts or setting spending limits or spend time together instead (within public health guidelines). This can help as you may not be the only one struggling with the costs of purchasing gifts for everyone.
- Covering the Costs– If you have been able to put aside some money during the year to meet the cost of Christmas, well done. 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? It’s just 10 weeks and 2 days (today is the 13th of October) until Christmas Eve – so divide your planned budget by 10, or by the number of paychecks you have between now and then. Only include income that you are 100% sure you will get before the Christmas holiday. For example, overtime and bonuses would be great to supplement the cost of Christmas, but not guaranteed.
- Sensible Borrowing– If you have not been able to put aside any money, or if what you have saved is not enough, then you have a choice; either you reduce the money you intend to spend, until your savings can cover it, or you may decide to borrow.
- Join Christmas saving clubs or save cash-back vouchers from supermarkets to put towards Christmas food shopping (Remember you can do this all year round, so maybe think about it for next year too!)
- Keep to your list and don’t be tempted by sales or special offers on other items. Remember, it is not a deal if you don’t need it!
- If buying online or pre-ordering an item, ensure that it will be delivered on time.
- 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.
- Check delivery times for items bought online and the return or exchange policy. Be aware of your rights and entitlements when shopping online within the EU and outside the EU (that includes the UK now).
- Keep all receipts together – you may need to create a separate folder in your email inbox to save all emailed receipts.
- Avoid putting purchases on stores cards, credit cards or paying by instalment – they may cost you more in the long run.
- Check out the terms and conditions on any items you purchase through ﬁnance or ‘ﬂexi-rent’ arrangements.
- Remember the shops only close for one or two 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 each week to add to the Christmas treats.
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 out 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.