In the last blog, we looked at the importance of planning for Christmas. Having an idea of how much you can spend on each person means you can stick to a spending plan and find ways to buy presents as cheaply as possible.
And while Christmas is mainly about spending, it’s also a chance to generate some money from things we no longer use. It’s never been easier to sell unwanted items online and there are many ways to do it for free. Clearing out unwanted stuff and getting some cash for it is a great way to start your Christmas fund.
Another place to start is by doing a quick Money MOT. This is where you look through all the subscriptions, standing orders, and direct debits that you have set up and make sure that they are all for things that you still use. Because we get very few bills through the post, we often don’t know what we’re paying for and how much we’re actually paying. Cancel anything that you haven’t used for three months or more. You should do this every year anyway, so why not start now and use the savings to help pay for Christmas? You can also use comparison websites to find better deals for your utilities and insurance.
As well as planning and buying things cheaply in advance, you can control the cost of Christmas by telling family and friends about your spending plans. This also helps them to manage their own spending and reduces tit-for-at-present buying. We worry a lot about what other people think and it can be hard to have those conversations. But it’s better than spending money you don’t have and making others feel obliged to do the same.
For relatives, especially those that don’t live nearby, children’s artwork, family photos, or family calendars make great low-cost gifts. If it is traditional to buy for the wider family members, perhaps arrange a secret Santa so that each family member only has to buy one gift. You can also give group gifts rather than one from each member of the family.
When you’re buying online, make sure you leave enough time to take advantage of any free delivery options. Not only will this save you money, but it will also give you a chance to change items that might be wrong or not correctly sized.
If you can’t resist a bargain when going to the stores, only bring enough money with you to cover the cost of the items you set out to buy. Retailers know all of the ways to grab our attention and get us to buy things. Buy now pay later, retail credit, discount pricing, loyalty cards, and incentives to return to the store are not aids, but retail tricks to loop customers into spending more and coming in again and again.
There are many guides to saving money online and Money Saving Expert has a comprehensive list of Christmas and online tips.