It’s that time of year again…Christmas! My favourite time of year if I’m honest. A time where people switch off and enjoy the festivities with loved ones. A time for family gatherings, the associated arguments, food glorious food, festive everything!
It is also the time where (some) people go crazy and spend like there is no tomorrow, often suffering a serious financial hangover waiting for January pay day. Add to this the fact that most firms bring pay day forward for Christmas and we are talking the a really bad financial hangover. If you don’t fancy that and would like January to feel like a normal month as opposed to the dreaded month here are some tips to help you avoid doing financial damage over Christmas.
**Side note – As a person with a birthday in January I would like to put it out there on behalf of all of my fellow January folk that Christmas overspend is NOT a good reason to delay celebrating our birthdays! Like Christmas you knew it was coming so you should have planned for it .**
Get a move on!
The most organised among us will probably have got Christmas shopping out of the way by now, with some even using January sales as a time to bag items for next Christmas. However, for the mere mortals (myself included) Christmas shopping generally starts around now as things start to feel more Chrismassy (not a word I know). If you want to make the most of the best deals get yourself to the shop (physical store or online) asap. The best deals tend to sell out pretty quick and you don’t want to be the one left with the limited more expensive options.
I’m a huge fan of online shopping, particularly at this time of year when the shops are heaving with people. It’s a great way to save on what you planned to spend as you can compare deals with ease from the comfort of wherever you are. You are also not confined by store opening hours, however it will require some organisation to avoid missing the last guaranteed Christmas delivery dates.
Note -some other glitch may result in your presents not being delivered.Last year I ordered two books for my niece and nephew from a huge online retailer only for the items not to be delivered and then confirmed as out of stock. Luckily there was still time to get from elsewhere, so take this as a warning to start now!
Rather than picking up the latest gadget you could come up with a more meaningful/personalised/creative gift. Often at a fraction of the price. This may not be for every recipient but give it a try on someone who would appreciate it, you never know what amazing things you could come up with.
Try to make at least some of the food from scratch
We can get pretty much everything in frozen/convenience form when it comes to Christmas dinner. If you want the quality stuff it’s really going to cost you. Doing some of it yourself will save big bucks AND it may even taste nicer.
If you really struggle in this area doing the vegetables and potatoes is an easy place to start.
Get rid of unnecessary presents
Some may feel that there is a stigma associated with not giving gifts, but do you really need to buy presents for those people you aren’t that close to? Last time I checked Christmas wasn’t really about giving gifts through obligation.
Buying such gifts can often create a feeling of obligation to return the gesture even if they can’t afford to. Instead how about doing something together during the festive period and giving the gift of quality time.
Big Present List? Consider doing Secret Santa
This is something I do with my siblings and cousins. We get present for the children but when it comes to the adults we buy for one person, selected at random. There is a upper limit set for the cost of these secret Santa gifts, one which doesn’t break the bank and then off we go.
This means that everyone gets something without feeling the need to spend silly amounts.
This isn’t one that I’ve done in the past but I know some people who swear by it. Listening to the logic I cannot argue that it is a cost-effective way to do your Christmas shopping, so here it is. Rather than buying presents during the more expensive run up to Christmas, you give your recipient a Christmas IOU card and get the present in the January sales.
For those non-UK readers this is the biggest sale of the year with significant reductions on pre-Christmas prices.
Is this a cost saving technique for everyone? No. Is there a guarantee your chosen item will be in store? No. Will you have to be one of those people braving the first day of January sales? Not necessarily, there’s always online.
If you’re buying big ticket items such as a TV, games consoles, etc. the difference in pre-Christmas and post- Christmas prices can really add up. It could be that difference that means you avoid paying for your next holiday with debt, as January blues set in. Alternatively it could be what makes January a normal month as opposed to the dreaded month.
PIN IT FOR LATER
What will you be doing to keep the Christmas cost under control this year? Have you tried any of the above suggestions? If so, how did they work for you?
Looking to save money all year round and not just Christmas? Check out my post on 20 ways to cut your monthly costs.