The Christmas holiday is a time for resting and spending time with family and friends. Unfortunately the modern Christmas can easily become a time for spending lots of money, something few can afford to do. It needn’t be a stressful time of year though. With a bit of help and advice you can ensure your holidays are great fun and affordable at the same time. Use these simple tips to help get your spending under control without compromising on your enjoyment.
Start as early as possible.
One of the worst things you can do when you are trying to control the cost of Christmas, is to leave your shopping until it’s too late. Last minute shopping inevitably results in spending too much as time runs out to look for less expensive good quality gifts for loved ones. Starting early takes the panic out buying, spreads the cost of Christmas and avoids you having to bear the full cost from a single wage packet.
Use lists to get organised.
Being disorganised can lead to a number of ways of spending too much, like last minute shopping, buying too much or forgetting what you’ve already bought. Make a list of everyone you’ll be buying gifts for and tick them off as you make the purchase. Better still, take a few minutes to put potential gift ideas beside each person’s name and bring some structure to your buying. Can you get them all from the one shop and save the cost of travelling around? Can you get them all online from one site and save on shipping? You’ll find that you can buy more quickly and be able to cost compare more effectively if you know what you’re looking for in advance.
A list can be a powerful organising and time saving tool, so use it for more than just your gifts. Make a Christmas card list and buy the right number of cards rather than buying too many and wasting them. Why not use a list to organise your Christmas meal? Decide what you’re making in advance and write down all the things you need to buy. To spread the cost over time, look at how much of this is not perishable or could easily be bought in advance and stored. This might allow you to take advantage of supermarket offers when they’re available rather than buying items the week before Christmas and having no choice on the price you pay.
Cut down on the waste.
Using lists will help you cut down on waste but so will controlling your impulse buying. It’s great to have lots of food and drink around the house during the festive period but does all of it really get used? Most households will throw out large amounts of food as not everything can be used in the time available. Remember this when you’re buying your groceries. Ask yourself if you really need everything you put in the trolley, or will visitors bring some things as gifts that you can share out and enjoy together?
Look for promotional offers and multi-buys.
Many stores compete for custom in the weeks leading up to Christmas by having promotional offers or multi-buys like ‘three for two’ and ‘buy one get one free’. Look at what’s on offer where you shop and see where you can make a saving. If your usual brand is not on special offer, look for a brand that might be and give it a try instead. In most cases the difference will not be noticeable. This can be useful for gifts as well as grocery shopping. Book stores are great for multi-buy offers in the run up to Christmas. Why not buy a few books as gifts and make the most of such discounts? If you distribute them throughout your recipient list, no one will be any the wiser. This is also true for toiletries and perfumes, where gift sets can sometimes be bought together to make savings.
Agree budgets with family members.
If you have a large family, the cost of buying presents for loved ones soon mounts up. Why not get together with other family members and agree a maximum amount per person that should be spent. This gets everyone’s spending under control and doesn’t lead to bad feelings about spending more or less than others might have done. You can also confidently budget for your gift shopping and use any extra money elsewhere.
Most tips for saving money at Christmas will be about getting organised and limiting wasted spend. It doesn’t need to be a stressful time of year and with a little thought, preparation and imagination, a budget Christmas can still be a very happy holiday.