Christmas can be a stressful time of year for families all over the world. As well as the annual panic to get things organised, lots of people feel under pressure to spend huge amounts of money on gifts for family and food for Christmas dinner. But spending money you don’t have can quickly get out of hand.
We’ve put together some top money-saving tips to help you stay out of debt this festive season:
Create a budget and stick to it
Before you do anything else, you’ll need to work out how much money you can afford to spend this Christmas.
Separate your living costs for the month (including allowances for food and bills) from the money you have in hand and the remainder will be your festive funds. Take the cost of Christmas dinner, deduct this from your total, and mentally split the remainder between your friends and family to work out what you should spend on each of their gifts.
Once you’ve decided on your budget, stick to it! This way it’s almost impossible to spend any more than you should. Remember, Christmas budgeting should never include balances on store cards, credit cards or any other borrowing methods.
Set expectations with your family and spend within your means
As small as they are, young children can put some big pressure on their parents when it comes to Christmas presents.
Whether it’s the latest games console, a new bike or a Shetland pony, most kids’ Christmas lists would bankrupt a billionaire. While it may be difficult to tell them these things are out of your financial reach, it’s important not to give in and buy their dream present if it’s too expensive for your means.
Be open about the situation with everyone in your family so that they know to make more reasonable gift requests. Christmas may be the time for giving, but giving shouldn’t get you into debt.
Take advantage of early sales
Some (very organised) people shop for presents throughout the year, taking advantage of sales and spreading the cost of their Christmas spending. If you decide to wait until closer to the big day, you’ve still got some great opportunities to make huge savings.
Landing late November, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become bigger and better than ever in the UK. For a whole weekend, all of your favourite shops and websites feature impressive deals on the latest gadgets, toys and clothing, allowing you to buy more for less.
If you managed to miss this year’s Black Friday madness, don’t fret. More and more retailers are starting their Boxing Day sales early, with some (like Amazon) having a Boxing Day Week. It may be a little last-minute, but it could save you a considerable amount!
Find cheaper offers online
Whatever you want to buy, you’ll almost always find things cheaper online. Rather than traipsing up and down the high street looking for the lowest price, using your computer is quicker, easier and much less stressful.
Tools like Google shopping allow you to easily compare product prices at a glance, showing results from many of the biggest retailers side-by-side. Or if you’re feeling extra lucky, you can try your hand at eBay auctions, where you can find new and used items at a fraction of their regular price.
Before you pay, don’t forget to check all of the popular voucher code and cashback websites for additional discounts and other offers.
Use eBay to make some extra money
Speaking of eBay, the revolutionary online auction site is a great opportunity to make some extra Christmas cash.
Once you’ve set up an account, you’re good to start selling off any unwanted items (including old Christmas gifts!). You can either start an auction or set a ‘Buy It Now’ price depending on how quickly you want to sell, and whether you have a set selling price in mind.
When your listings come to an end and the buyer pays up, the money is credited to your PayPal account to spend on whatever you wish. eBay and PayPal do take small fees from your sales, so make sure to read up on these first.
Save on food with budget brands and wonky veg
You may feel like Christmas Dinner is only done right with fancy food from expensive supermarkets, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Budget brands all look and taste exactly the same once they’re out of the packaging, so give your bank account a break and opt for the no-frills alternatives. With the demand for cheap, fresh ingredients growing every year, there are plenty of low-price supermarkets around that can help you cook up a Christmas storm without hurting your wallet.
Wonky veg boxes are also a fantastic way to save money. Grocery chains all over the country are launching their own variation of the idea, with some claiming to contain enough vegetables to feed a family for a week for just £3.
If debt does ever becomes a problem
Hopefully these tips will help you avoid debt this Christmas, but it isn’t always that simple. Whatever the reason, if debt ever does become a problem, it’s important to take control of your finances as quickly as possible.
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