Since having my daughter I have fallen in love with the magic of Christmas all over again.
The fairy lights, food, mulled wine, family, people who spend three thousand pounds on their electricity bill in December lighting up the whole street (I love you guys!).
I don’t think there’s a better feeling in this world than seeing your child on Christmas Eve full of excitement, joy, and the anticipation of what the morning will bring other than a 4am wake-up.
Unfortunately, like many of us I have experienced Christmas’ where I knew exactly what the morning would bring – financial stress!
This is what motivated me to become better at planning, organising, budgeting and of course earning. I believe with good planning and budgeting Christmas will be magical at a fraction of the cost.
One thing I have learnt is that without any doubt ’presence over presents’ is what counts but it still pays to budget for the unavoidable extra expenses around the festive period. The family being home costs more in food and utilities and children love to give and receive gifts.
So let’s have a look at the ways I have changed my spending habits to make Christmas less of a financial burden.
PLANNING FOR CHRISTMAS
My Christmas preparations start in January when I buy Christmas essentials heavily discounted in the January sales. This will include wrapping paper, cards, decorations, and things like luxury crackers at a fraction of the original price.
It’s possible to buy some great Christmas presents at this time of year too, such as gift sets left in the BOOTS sale once it hits 70% off.
The January sales are also a great time to buy larger sizes in children’s clothes to store for the year ahead. *Cough* the NEXT Boxing Day sale.
EARN EXTRA CASH FOR CHRISTMAS
Throughout the year I use cashback websites for all online purchases where possible. This will include all Christmas online purchases as most retailers offer at least 5% cashback on top of any seasonal reductions. I save this money over the year and withdraw it ready for Christmas.
If you’re new to cashback websites you can read about the benefits of using them here – cashback sites.
Other ways to cut the cost of gifting include using apps such as Job Spotter and various survey sites to accrue vouchers which I give as gifts or exchange for presents. I also look out for mystery shopping assignments that include free meals over Christmas, or items that can be gifted such as chocolates or homeware.
I save supermarket loyalty points for the year and use these to pay for the Christmas food shop. I combine this with the Shopmium UK cashback app which gives us discounted or free food and drink.
As Christmas approaches, I look to make savings buying a tree after the second week of December. This year we saved £17 on a live tree that was reduced from £35. Savings on an artificial tree are even greater as this can be reused. If you are unable to afford a new tree, a great place to find bargains are charity shops in December. Once Christmas is over store all decorations in containers so they can be used for many years.
If you are looking for last minute food savings another tip is to check the yellow ticket reductions on seasonal goods Christmas Eve.
BUDGET FOR CHRISTMAS
Regardless of your financial circumstances, sitting down before your Christmas shopping begins and setting a realistic budget will greatly help you to not overspend.
In October I work out my budget for Christmas, checking how much I have in vouchers and cashback saved over the year, and what I can afford to spend on top.
One of the bad spending habits I’ve managed to overcome is the ‘Christmas Eve fear’. You finish your Christmas shopping early and panic spend on Christmas Eve because you feel you haven’t bought enough presents. Avoid this as it leads to overspending.
If you do find yourself overspending over Christmas and you are worried going forwards there is some great advice available from Step Change.