Christmas is truly an exciting time of the year. But even in the midst of the thrill of having everything on your wish list, reality has an uncanny way of setting in. You soon realize that the funds just aren’t enough. So, how do you make it?
Well, it’s pretty simple. Just follow the tips below to have a festive and frugal Christmas.
Plan for affordability, not desirability
Before you start planning, think about this. Many list every lusted-for item, gifts for all, and a splendid meal, and then only afterwards do they consider: “How will I pay for it?” That’s a recipe to be broke by New Year’s Eve.
Instead, calculate your budget and ask: “What can I afford to spend on Christmas?” Christmas is one day – don’t ruin the whole of the next year for it.
Consider scaling back this Christmas. We’re not talking about cutting back on your gifts to parents, children or to grandchildren, but the ever-widening glut of friends, extended family and colleagues. Christmas isn’t a retail festival – we need to end obliged giving and think more about what we’re giving, to whom and why.
Set your budget and don’t stray
It doesn’t matter whether your budget is $20,000 or $100,000, this tip works for all. If you know your limits before hitting the shops you can avoid any last-minute surprises when you examine the receipts.
Make a list – and check it twice
Christmas shopping on impulse is very dangerous. So make an old-fashioned shopping list and stick to it. Remember, shops spend a fortune on targeting your spending impulses – a list helps you beat them.
List everyone that you intend to buy for, then budget a reasonable amount that you can afford to spend on each person. Making a shopping list will also help you avoid impulse buying and keep track of your spending.
Don’t buy on impulse or just for the sake of it. Those last minute presents are the ones that push your finances into crisis. Leave your credit card at home and take out a specific amount of cash – then shop.
Make sure you write down everyone you plan to buy a gift for, no matter how small the gift may be. Include ideas of what to give each person, along with the maximum amount you’re willing to spend.
Avoid Last Minute Shopping
Avoid shopping at the last minute and try to arrange to go shopping when it’s quieter. Shops are a lot quieter late at night or first thing in the morning. Leaving yourself plenty of time and avoiding busy shopping times will make your Christmas shopping a bit easier.
Try a new approach to buying presents
You could agree to a spending limit with your friends and family or try an option like a Secret Santa, so each person only has to buy one present. Or if there is a special item that you really want to give to someone, consider splitting the cost with a friend or relative. Keep an eye out for coupons or deals on gifts wherever you can.
Prepare your present list
Now is the time to sit down with family and friends and broach the subject of presents. Agree with certain friends that you won’t exchange gifts this year, or set a price limit for family presents, particularly those for adults. Alternatively, have a “children only” rule, or set up a Secret Santa. Here, you draw names out of a hat so that everyone has to buy only one gift (and then guess who it is from). If a maximum price is set in advance, this can be an effective way of keeping costs down.
Do your research
If you have a present in mind, shop around and compare prices, both in store and online. Keep your eye out for discounts and promotional offers. They are abundant during the Christmas time. If you plan to do some shopping online, be careful. What might seem like a great deal could be more expensive when you add on delivery charges, so be sure to take them into account. Make sure you leave plenty of time for delivery too.
Don’t get caught out by credit
In the run up to Christmas, personal loans and in-store credit (hire purchase) may look like attractive options, especially for larger purchases like personal computers, electrical equipment or furniture, where stores may offer you 0% finance for a period of time. Before signing up to store credit or a personal loan, consider the full costs and not just the monthly repayment. Ponder this, would the repayments still be affordable if your income dropped for any reason, or if you had an unexpected expense?
Forget the Credit Card
Leave the credit card at home and bring cash or your debit card instead. Credit card debt can be very expensive if you can’t repay it in full immediately or within a few months. When you are spending the cash in your pocket or in your bank account, you will be much less likely to overspend than if you pay with a credit card.
Make the most of discounts
Buying the festive food can be an expensive business, so make the most of those supermarkets offering discounts.
Don’t buy too much
Most hosts will want to put on a plentiful spread, but it’s easy to overestimate the amount that people will tuck away. You don’t want to waste food, or the money you’ve spent buying it. So be economical in all that you do.
Be realistic with your food shopping
It can be easy to buy more than you need, but bear in mind that most shops are only closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, so there’s no need to go overboard. Check your cupboards for ingredients before you start shopping, so you don’t end up doubling up.
Next Christmas….Start Early
Be prepared for 2016. If you think even further ahead you can save even more next year. Christmas cards, wrapping paper, crackers etc are always in the sale just after Christmas, stock up in the sales this year and make next year even cheaper.
Keep your eyes open all year round for items for friends and family would like; it’s often when you’re not looking for something specific that you stumble across the perfect gift for Dad or your best friend. Once December 2016 hits, you’ll be glad that you already have some people crossed off your list. Just make sure to keep all your advance gifts in a designated (and hidden, if necessary) spot so that you don’t forget a purchase you made months in advance.
Start your Christmas shopping early and spread the expense out. Don’t feel the squeeze come December 2016. Start stocking your stockings early. The best time to start shopping for Christmas is Boxing Day.
Forward-planning isn’t going to help with cutting the cost of Christmas this year. But it’s unlikely that any of us are going to feel any more flush in 12 months’ time….Remember it is possible to cut the expense without cutting out the fun.