City thinking, local knowledge

Looking after your finances over Christmas

By Questa Chartered

Christmas might be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also one of the most expensive. So it pays to think carefully about how much you’re going to spend over the festive season, so you don’t end up with a financial hangover that lasts well into the new year.

Here are ten tips to help you stay on top of your finances and keep your books balanced over Christmas and into the new year.

Set a Christmas budget

The cost of food, presents, decorations and potentially travel can soon mount up, with the average family easily spending hundreds of pounds at Christmas.

So it’s well worth thinking ahead about how many people you plan to buy presents for or entertain over the festive period, so you can have a rough idea of costs beforehand. With that information, you can then decide what you can afford.

Save money all year round

Many people make the mistake of relying on a single month’s pay packet to cover the cost of Christmas, but starting to save up early could make a big difference.

It means you don’t necessarily have to put a large amount of money aside each month, and even just small savings can quickly add up into a sizeable sum. For example, putting £10 aside each month from January means you’ll have £120 to hand by December.

But make sure you commit to saving a set amount each month, so you can be absolutely certain you’ll have a particular amount of money available when the festive season arrives. And be realistic about what you can afford, as your day-to-day living costs will still need to be met too.

Write a list of what to buy

People often fall into debt at Christmas because they’re spending impulsively, picking up anything and everything they see in the stores and online. But if you write a list of what to buy and stick to it, you shouldn’t have your head turned by other items and blow your budget.

Shop around

This is good advice at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas, as the first outlet you see that sells a certain item might not be offering the best price.

So research the market, check online and look for discount codes and vouchers that could knock a few pounds off your festive outlay, and you’ll either have saved money or stretched your festive budget a little bit further.

Don’t rely on loans or credit cards

It’s tempting to take out a short-term loan or pay for items on your credit card to cover your Christmas expenses. But this can be a costly option later on, and your credit score could take a hit if you miss any repayments.

Buy Christmas presents early

We all know that Christmas is on December 25th, but there’s no reason why your Christmas shopping has to start on a set date. By buying presents throughout the year, you can spread out the cost of Christmas and potentially save yourself lots of money.

Make your own gifts

You don’t have to go to a shop to buy a Christmas present, as you can always make your own. Handmade gifts such as a knitted scarf, a festive bake or even a homemade Christmas card would certainly be well received, with the added bonus that it won’t cost you much at all, and you’ll probably enjoy making it.

Don’t neglect regular expenses

You shouldn’t lose sight of your day-to-day expenses, such as mortgage payments and utility bills, just because it’s Christmas, which makes it all the more important to set a budget and know how much you’re spending to mark the festive period.

Recycle unwanted gifts

If you received unwanted gifts last Christmas or have items in perfect condition that you don’t need anymore, consider regifting or selling them. It’s also a more sustainable option than simply throwing these items away.

Start saving for 2022

Of course, it might be too late to put some of these tips into action this year. But you could start following this advice in the new year, so you’re all set to enjoy Christmas 2022 without any financial worries.

 

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