Christmas is a time for generosity; it brings out the jovial Santa Claus in all of us, but it’s easy to spend above your means and fall back on credit cards and payday loans to pay for all those lavish gifts and festive food. Overspending at Christmas can lead to some people finding themselves in problem debt by the start of the new year. Let’s buck that trend in 2020 and enjoy Christmas without falling into debt.
Follow our step-by-step guide on how to avoid overspending this Christmas.
Set a budget – And stick to it! Use this Christmas as an opportunity to allocate a realistic amount for each spending category for Christmas: gifts, decorations, food, alcohol, clothing, socialising. Once you get to your budgeting limit – stop spending! You can find a useful Christmas Money Planner on the Money Advice Website here.
Shop smartly – Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the presents, but it doesn’t mean you have to get ripped off when buying gifts. Check for online discount codes before purchasing, use price comparison websites such as Kelkoo and visit local charity shops – you’ll be amazed at all the trinkets and treasures you can find; it’s a great way to fill those stockings on a budget.
Secret Santa – Have you got lots of siblings and partners in the mix? Why not try a family Secret Santa? Agree who’s taking part and set a budget that’s suitable for everyone. Stick to the budget you’ve all agreed on- you don’t want to overstep the mark and leave someone feeling guilty.
Don’t shop at all – Can your family settle for small wrap-ups on Christmas Day and then wait another week for their ‘main gift’? Companies offer massive sales on Boxing Day and in January, with a lot of the latest toys, gadgets, and clothing all available at a fraction of the price it is in December. Why not give them a Christmas IOU and do all of your gift-shopping in the sales?
Christmas gift cheques – This isn’t for material gifts; this is for promises, fun ideas, or favours that your family and friends can ‘cash-in’ when they want to. Whether it’s a promise to do all of the Christmas dishes, making breakfast in bed, or painting the spare bedroom, the possibilities are endless, and you won’t need to spend a thing. You can even print your own Christmas gift cheques with our free online generator here.
Make or bake creative – Have you taken advantage of the spare time in lockdown and perfected your gardening, crafting or baking skills? Put these skills to the test and make Christmas gifts instead. You can turn fruit and veg into jams, pickles, and preserves, you can craft personal cards or small gifts, or you can even bake Christmas cookies and cakes and gift them to your family. You’ll find some great ideas on Pinterest.
The reality is, we all want to treat our loved ones at Christmas, especially after the difficult year we’ve had, but you can still show them how much they mean to you without digging a financial blackhole in your pocket. Last year, it took on average 7 months for someone to pay off their Christmas debts, that’s longer than some of the gifts may last. Overspending at Christmas may be as much of a tradition for you as Christmas itself: it won’t be easy to break the cycle, but by the end of January, your bank balance will be thanking you.