6 ways to keep your festive finances under control
Careful financial planning over the holiday season will help to ensure maximum cheer and minimum stress
Chances are, Christmas is going to feel a bit different this year. 2020 has been a tough old time, putting the health, jobs and relationships of many under intense strain. As such, we all deserve to have a very merry Christmas, but it’s essential to do that without blowing the budget at a time when finances are probably tighter than usual.
While we may still be a few weeks away from the 25th December, now’s the time to start putting steps in place to keep finances under control over Christmas and avoid being penniless (or deep into your credit card) come January. Here are our top tips.
Plan your perfect Christmas, not the perfect Christmas
There’s a lot of expectation attached to Christmas nowadays. We all want to be able to provide the perfect tree, the perfect dinner, the perfect gifts and the perfect decorations. But amidst all this pressure, it’s easy to forget that Christmas means something completely different from one household to the next.
This is why you should know your limits when it comes to Christmas in your home. Set yourself a budget and plan your Christmas around it, rather than setting your heart on all the top-end festive goodies and then thinking “How will I pay for it?” as an afterthought.
Put a ban on unnecessary presents
One way to keep finances under control over Christmas is to cull the amount of presents you buy. We’re not talking about gifts for grandparents or siblings, but the ever-growing spectrum of friends, extended family, colleagues and neighbours.
Christmas is a time for showing those we love the appreciation they deserve. If you find yourself frantically shopping for people you barely say hello to for the other 364 days a year, it’s time for a rethink.
If you haven’t used it since last Christmas, sell it
We all receive gifts that we have no intention of using. Some of them are probably still in the plastic from last year. If this sounds familiar, don’t just let them sit there gathering dust; sell them and put the profits towards this Christmas instead.
It’s now easy than ever to sell items from the comfort of your own home, thanks to eBay, Facebook Marketplace and endless selling/buying apps and platforms like Gumtree.
Stay alert to supermarket offers
Tis the season for supermarket offers, which means you need to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s available. From saving stamps to points systems, every supermarket will have its own festive saving scheme, but the end goal is the same.
Anyone who has funded a Christmas before knows the obscene amount we end up spending in the supermarket over the course of the holiday season. Even a 5% or 10% saving over the course of December could result in a significant reduction in costs.
Take care with gift cards
Gift cards are peddled as an easy and fool proof gift option but think again before forking out on cards for specific stores. If 2020 has taught us one thing, it’s that brands are fragile, and one significant setback could be all it takes to see even the biggest businesses go bust. While it would be fair to say that Amazon isn’t at risk of going bust any time soon, there are some chains that are in a less secure position. You don’t want to be spending your money on gift cards for shops which are weeks away from closing for good.
What’s more, gift cards have expiry dates. You’re essentially swapping money you can spend any time, anywhere for money that can only be spent in a specific place before a certain date.
If you still feel compelled to invest in gift cards, look at options which allow use in multiple shops and restaurants, or maybe take the opportunity to support a local business.
It’s never too early to start thinking about next year, and investing your money in the right places now could give you a tidy profit to enjoy come December 2021. But getting to grips with the world of investments can feel tricky, which is why you should seek out independent financial advice to ease you through the process.