Despite Christmas being on the same date every year, have you noticed how it always seems to creep up on us earlier and earlier? No sooner are children back in school than the stores start filling their seasonal aisles with Christmas chocolates. The shops are well prepared but are we? Here are some tips to help.
Making a list saves money
No matter how stunningly beautiful the shop displays look or how effective the TV adverts are, don’t let yourself get sucked in by Christmas advertising. Advertisers are paid to convince you to part with your cash. You may need to be strict with yourself. Think about making a budget.
First, consider how much you really need to spend. Make a list and stick to it. If you haven’t got much money don’t feel obliged to spend it just because it’s Christmas. Sticking to the list stops you being sucked in by the impulse buys.
The shops often have special offers months before Christmas which you could take advantage of. In the run up to Christmas you could then buy one or two presents a month to take advantage of these savings. But remember to stick to your list!
100 days to save
Consider how much you can realistically save between now and Christmas. Saving can be tough, but remember, a little is better than nothing especially when your income is low and money is tight already.
If you start saving now, even as little as £1 per day will give you around £100 by Christmas. Maybe you could have a jar or moneybox and put in £1 every day between now and Christmas so you can see your money mount up. Not only is this great for Christmas but it’s a way of easing yourself into the habit of saving regularly.
Managing the cost of Christmas
It may be worthwhile considering what Christmas really needs to cost you. There are still three monthly paydays until Christmas which gives you time to organise and plan what you are going to do. Perhaps have some conversations with family members about how you will approach Christmas this year. Are you having a large family gathering? It could be fun to have everyone bring a dish towards the Christmas dinner to reduce the cost.
Do you need to buy presents for everyone? It can be easy to get carried away. Perhaps you could consider doing a family secret Santa so each of you buys one gift within a set budget. This reduces the cost for each member of the family. It may also reduce the waste of excessive wrapping paper and cheap gifts that were purchased just because of the pressure to buy something for everyone.
Research by Groupon found that over 53% of the gifts opened on Christmas Day are forgotten about or completely unused. The thing that remains is the memories of time spent together as a family.
Budgeting is for life, not just for Christmas
Being prepared for any big expenses such as Christmas takes time, thought and planning but it also pays to be prepared with regular spending too.
There are some great tools available for budgeting and saving. The CAP Money Course helps thousands of people every year to budget their money, save and spend well. Courses are run in churches across the UK, giving people the skills to take control of their finances and stay out of debt. You can search for courses in your area at capmoneycourse.org.
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a UK charity with over 600 services across the country delivering debt counselling, money management, job clubs, life skills groups, and support for people breaking addictions. Visit capuk.org to find out more.