It’s that time of year again. No sooner have the summer holidays drawn to a close, and the shops are filled with advent calendars and tree decorations. Christmas is officially coming. While many of us look forward to exchanging gifts and seeing loved ones, there’s no doubt that the festive period can also be stressful. This is the most expensive time of the year for the majority of households. If you’re looking to celebrate in style this Christmas without blowing the budget, here are some simple ways to save.
It may not even be Halloween yet, but Christmas will be here before we know it. One of the best ways to prepare for the expense of the festive season is to plan ahead. Start budgeting now, and put a sum of money aside every month. Work out how much you can afford to put in a savings pot or a separate account, and then set up a direct debit. The more you can save now, the less pressure there will be when Christmas arrives. If you don’t already do a budget every month, it’s a very simple concept, and it will revolutionise the way you manage your money. You can use apps, spreadsheets or good, old-fashioned pen and paper, and it only takes a few minutes of your time. Note down how you much you have coming into your account, for example, from your wages and any benefits you receive. In a separate column, list regular payments, such as your phone bill and rent, and then add one-off payments that you’ll incur that month. If you’re paying for a holiday, or it’s your partner’s birthday, for example, you may spend more that month than usual. Once you have all the figures, you can work out how much disposable income you have.
Using vouchers, codes, and coupons
At this time of year, retailers are desperate to attract new customers, so look out for amazing savings on gifts, decorations, food, and drink. It’s a good idea to sign up with discount sites and to subscribe to your favourite stores. If you’re on the mailing list, you’ll get offers sent directly to your inbox. If you’ve got an idea of what you want to buy for your kids or your parents, for example, it’s worth registering with the retailer and waiting for deals. If you can save 10, 20 or even 30 percent on every gift, this will enable you to make your money go a lot further.
When it comes to saving for the Christmas period, it’s wise to shop around. Compare prices on everything you plan to buy, from your turkey and your festive drinks to presents and party clothes. Use the Internet to find the lowest prices.
Reducing spending at home
Most of us spend a lot more at Christmas than we do during the rest of the year. If you’re keen to splash out, but you don’t want to break the bank, look for ways you can save at home. Compare prices on insurance, TV, and phone contracts, take a look at different energy providers and try and reduce the amount the amount of gas and electricity you use. Don’t leave lights on or appliances on standby, and invest in LED bulbs. If you tend to go crazy at the supermarket, swap to online shopping. This way, you can avoid the lure of special offers and keep an eye on your running total.
Making small sacrifices
If you’re eager to boost your Christmas savings pot, consider making small sacrifices over the course of the next couple of months to decrease your outgoings. Think about what you spend your money on, and eliminate some non-essentials. Do you really need to spend £2.50 every morning on a takeaway coffee or £7 on lunch every day? If you stick to instant coffee in the office and take a packed lunch and save that money, you could have enough to buy a whole host of gifts by the time you get to December. Other options you may wish to consider include going out less, cutting back on hair and beauty treatments, and ditching takeaways and eating out in favour of cooking at home.
The nights are drawing in, and there’s a chill in the air. After weeks of sunshine, Christmas will be here in no time. If you’re worried about affording all the trimmings, or you’d like to be better prepared financially this year, hopefully, this saving guide will come in handy. Start planning now for a stress-free Christmas!