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British people spend more money at Christmas than at any other time of the year. In 2022, the average spend (per head) was £1,700 in London including food, gifts, travel, clothes, gift cards and toys. Unfortunately, many people simply cannot afford their festive spending – turning to credit cards to cope. Around one-fifth of British people are still paying off their Christmas debt by the following Easter.
Of course, it would be a shame to cut too many corners at Christmas and ruin the spirit of the season. Yet, the good news is that there are sensible ways to make December special without breaking the bank. Below, we offer 8 money-saving tips to help families enjoy the festive month whilst maintaining financial stability as the nation continues to grapple with higher prices.
We hope these ideas are helpful to you. If you want to discuss your strategy with us, please get in touch to arrange a meeting with a financial adviser:
#1 Set a budget
Many families simply spend money on gifts, food and other Christmas items at the moment – without stepping back to consider the total cost. By drawing up a total budget of what you can afford, however, you can avoid a nasty shock to your bank statement in January.
Some households engage in a high degree of forward planning, setting aside a specific amount each month (starting in January) to build up their Christmas savings. By the time Christmas arrives, they do not need to worry about where the money will come from.
#2 Be specific with your gift list
Do you really need to buy a £50 present for your distant cousin who lives on the other side of the world? Does each colleague on your team need their own gift? To keep costs down, be ruthless with your gift list.
Immediate family is easily justifiable – e.g. children and grandparents. Consider assigning a specific monetary amount to each person on your gift list as you draw up your budget, and try to stick to it. If you feel obliged to give to friends or people at work, explore creative ideas which could keep unnecessary costs down for everyone – such as Secret Santa.
#3 Plan for discounts
Planning ahead can pay off hugely at Christmas. Shopping for discounts and bargain bundles over the year can make your budget stretch much further than leaving things until the last minute.
For instance, jewelers often bring their prices down in late May after Mother’s Day. However, November to February can be more expensive due to the “engagement season” (leading up to Valentine’s Day).
#4 DIY gifts
Many people appreciate the gift of time and effort rather than looking at the price tag of what they receive. Baked goods, crafts or personalised photo albums can be thoughtful presents. Artists and creatives might create a painting, music track or digital art piece.
The main limits to DIY gits are your time, motivation and imagination. Other ideas include knitted jumpers, hats and scarves. Others can create bath bombs, salts and candles. You could create a custom calendar or even a personalised spatula!
#5 Be prudent with gift cards
Gift cards can be a tempting option when you are short on ideas. However, be careful to check the company in question. Some retailers go bust, making their gift cards useless. There are expiry dates to watch out for (make sure the recipient knows this). Some issuers also impose “admin fees” if the card is not used within a specific time period.
#6 Use cashback
Many banks offer cashback schemes with various retailers – e.g. 10% cashback from a fashion designer. These deals are often listed on your mobile banking app or your bank’s official website. Some credit cards have an in-built cashback mechanism built into them, letting you gain some money back on each gift you buy. For this option, however, make sure you will be disciplined enough to repay the card immediately before interest starts building up.
#7 Do not forget travel
With many families spread far and wide across the UK, you may wish to travel to your parent’s home or another loved one’s house for Christmas. It is easy to forget the cost of transport. In 2023, with energy prices still quite high, this could get expensive without careful planning.
For instance, if you plan to visit family by train, consider buying your ticket far in advance. Tickets usually go on sale 10-12 weeks before the departure date. The cheapest deals can be snapped up quickly, so consider setting up an alert for when these go on sale.
#8 Flog old items
Are there tools, books or other items scattered around your house which have not been used for a year or more? Consider selling them on. There are many online marketplaces which can let you do this quite easily such as Facebook Selling, Ebay and Vinted.
If you are interested in discussing your own financial plan or investment strategy with us, please get in touch to arrange a meeting with a financial adviser: