This year has affected us all, mentally, physically and financially – but we can still make the festive season as special as possible (without breaking the bank). Here’s how…
1. Make a budget and stick to it
“Christmas shouldn’t be the season of debt, so don’t overspend and accumulate debt you end up paying off until next year,” says Alex Price, director of financial planning at Charles Stanley (charles-stanley.co.uk). “It’s easy to overspend when using contactless payment, so use cash or a prepaid credit card to avoid going over budget.”
2. Try to avoid food waste
All that food can really add up, so think about what you’re buying and remember that you don’t have to stock up on something just because it’s tradition. If you know that your entire family hates Christmas pudding, for example, there is no point purchasing one.
3. Keep track
Gift buying isn’t the only expense you need to keep an eye on. “Remember to add food, drink, travel costs, cards, postage, decorations and socialising to your budget,” says Andrew Wayland, financial expert at everyday-loans.co.uk.
4. Deck the halls
Decorations don’t have to cost a lot. There is plenty of inspiration to be found online, from more complicated wreaths to easier ideas such as simply spray painting pine cones you’ve collected on your winter walks silver or gold.
5. Start early
“You read about many super-savvy shoppers who stockpile freebies or bag some of the biggest bargains throughout the year,” says Andrew. “Most of us aren’t that organised, but it’s better to start now than leaving it until the last minute.”
6. Focus on what it is you need
“Make a list of the things you really need and beware of deals that tempt us to buy unnecessary,” warns Alex. “Don’t leave it until the last minute so you end up panic buying!”
7. Write a list
“Make a list of everyone you’re buying presents for and potential ideas you have for them,” say the experts at netvouchercodes.co.uk. “Then, once you’ve bought the presents, write them down next to each person’s name. This reduces the risk of you buying more than one present for the same person.”
8. Sort your Christmas post early
As it looks like we’re in for a quieter Christmas, you may be posting more than usual this year. Make a note of the last second class posting date to save yourself money (and avoid the stress of something potentially not turning up on time!) – this year it’s the 18th December.
9. Watch out for gift wrapping
Lots of shops offer gift wrapping, so why not take up the offer and save yourself both time and money? Just make a note of who the present is for so you don’t get confused later on!
10. Make sure you get the best deal
“Some things look like they are a good deal but consider using a price tracker website to check if what you are buying really is the best price or if you can get it cheaper elsewhere,” suggests Alex.
11. Look at where you can save
“Stick to one present per person – those extra little stocking fillers can really add up and easily break your budget,” says Andrew. “Send e-cards to save on postage costs and treat yourself to new accessories to jazz up outfits you already own.”
12. Save on your tree
Christmas isn’t really Christmas without a tree, but it can be an expense. If you want a real one, look for faster-growing species as these are generally cheaper, and leave it as close to the big day as possible to make the biggest saving.
13. Club together
“If money is tight, why not club together with other family members to purchase one nice gift rather than lots of small ones?” asks Alex.
14. Spread your costs
“Start planning for the festive period now so you can budget ahead of time and also take advantage of any supermarket offers which are starting to appear before they go,” says Alex.
15. Consider a secret Santa
This doesn’t just have to be for the office – a secret Santa (where you set a budget and pull a name out of a hat to find out who you’re buying for) can be a lifesaver for those with larger families. It means that you can save money, as well as buy a more thoughtful present than you might’ve done otherwise!
16. Talk it out
“If you’re dreading the thought of Christmas shopping and thinking of present ideas for friends and family, why not just talk to them about it?” ask the experts at netvouchercodes. co.uk. “They may also be in the same boat and it may be mutually beneficial to not do presents this year. Alternatively, why not enjoy a day trip you’ve all wanted to do for a while, or go out for a nice meal in lieu of presents.”
17. Plan what time of day you shop
“You’re more likely to make impulse purchases on your lunch break or after work – when you have to make a quick decision you might regret,” says Andrew.
18. Ditch the turkey
Yes, it’s a big part of Christmas, but that means it also comes with a hefty price tag. If we are only allowed smaller gatherings this year, why not consider a cheaper meat, such as chicken, or even going meat-free completely?
19. Use money saved wisely
“Many people are working from home and saving on travel costs, lunches and coffees and others are socialising less or cutting back on travel, so plan ahead and put money saved towards your Christmas pot,” advises Alex.
20. Make your own presents
“Don’t worry that homemade gifts will leave you looking like a cheapskate,” says Andrew. “There are so many great ideas out there and recipients will be truly touched by the effort you’ve put in.”
21. Recycle your wrapping paper
Saving wrapping paper from previous years can really save you money and help the environment, too (just be careful how you open gifts to avoid ripping it too much!). You could also find other, creative ways to wrap presents, such as old road maps, sheet music, newspaper or fabric, for example.
22. Don’t worry in silence
“If you have financial concerns due to changed circumstances you are not alone, so don’t suffer in silence,” says Alex. “Speaking to your employer, bank, financial adviser or a charity can help you make a plan to alleviate some of the worry.”
23. Check your emails
“Most retailers send discount codes or vouchers for birthdays or when you register to a mailing list,” says Andrew. “So, make the most of their money off deals and discounts they offer.”
24. Be prepared to buy preloved
“Little ones won’t care whether their present comes in its original packaging, which means you can pick up second-hand toys for a fraction of the price,” says Andrew. “Just make sure there’s no damage that could be dangerous. Adults love a vintage or pre-loved gift – especially when it means getting so much more for the money. Even hard-to-please teenagers may agree to technology that’s a little out of date if it means they get their favourite brand or higher spec. There are lots of mint condition refurbished items out there that come with a warranty and are like new.”
25. Think ahead
It’s not silly to start planning for Christmas 2021 as soon as we hit January – you can snap up amazing deals on everything from wrapping paper to lights in the sales, so why not make the most of it? You could even start looking for gifts, too!