I used to get laughed at for having all my Christmas shopping done by the end of September.
I didn’t mind as it was usually me who had the last laugh when everyone was complaining about being skint in January!
I’d learnt that the first trick with Christmas is to start planning and spending as early as possible. I see the festive season as a financial battle, and I implore you to make sure you win the war.
The idea is to have a great, enjoyable relaxing Christmas without being skint in January.
The real challenge at Christmas, especially if you’re in debt, is to make sure you don’t get yourself into trouble after the festivities are over. It doesn’t help that many people are paid earlier in December and this sometimes means your next payday can be up to seven weeks away.
If you start to prepare for Christmas now you’ll stand a better chance of avoiding being skint in the dark days of January.
The true champion of Christmas budgeting
A couple of years ago Martin Lewis asked his followers if true moneysavers should “cancel Christmas”! We don’t think there’s any need to go that far, even if you’re struggling with problem debt.
The true goal of any great budgeter is to not have to spend a penny more in December than they normally do, and this all comes down to having a Christmas budgeting plan in place.
We’ve said elsewhere that good budgeting is a bit of an art form. But with a little bit of planning now (even as late as October) you could still be a Christmas budgeting champ!
Christmas if you’re on a debt solution
If you’re in a debt solution with StepChange Debt Charity we’ll always try to put some money in your budget for ‘sundries and emergencies’. We know this money normally gets used for emergencies but you could always save whatever you have left from this each month to put towards Christmas.
Or why not try swapping a cinema trip or meal out for a free activity and save the money that you would have spent from the socialising part of your budget to put towards Christmas.
You’ve also got your food, toiletries and cleaning budget and with a bit of careful planning you can help to make sure you win the financial battle this Christmas and still have a great time.
What to buy for Christmas right NOW!
Tip No.1 Spread the cost of Christmas food – start buying things you’ll need in December now, such as cranberry sauce, crackers, sherry for Grandma, stuffing, small gifts and anything with a long best before date. Use our Christmas banquet on the cheap blogpost for foodie ideas.
Tip No.2 Hit the charity shops for second hand bargains before everyone else does. You can pick up some great gifts in the charity shops but remember to start now.
Tip No.3 Start looking for eBay bargains ASAP, before the competition gets too fierce. Use eBay watch lists and remember to not bid more than you budgeted for.
Tip No 4 Amazon has some great second hand books that look almost new. These alone can save you a packet!
Tip No 5 Save up your Clubcard points, rewards and any other promotions for the last Christmas shop. Nectar points and Tesco clubcards can all help with Christmas shopping. Don’t be tempted to use them beforehand.
Tip No 6 Look for offers in your email inbox – October is a good time to keep an eye on online bargains and offers. Make sure you can afford them though!
Tip No 7 Can you save money by buying in bulk? Check out special offers for all the products you’ll need over the Christmas period.
Tip No 8 Get crafty! Can you make a gift for someone or cook someone a special cake for a Christmas present? Now is time to get the stuff you need!
Tip No 9 Can you re-gift anything from last year? There’s no shame in ‘recycling’ un-used presents!
Tip No 10 If you haven’t done it already start a ‘sealed pot challenge’ (more of this below).
Let’s go potty this Christmas
A ‘sealed pot challenge’ is an idea taken from MoneySavingExpert.com. Between now and Christmas save as much loose change as you can.
If you’ve got children you can make a fun game out of this. Involve the kids and have a competition to guess how much you’ll eventually end up with.
Don’t cash this money in until the last Christmas shop and use it for gifts, food and Christmas treats. You’ll be surprised by how quickly those pennies add up.