As much as most of us are loathe to even think about it, Christmas is steadily creeping closer. It’s now less than 100 days away!
Before we know it, festive adverts will soon dominate our televisions, and from every supermarket speaker will rattle a relentless barrage of cutesy jingles. Bah! Bah humbug, I say!
Leaving our gripes to one side for a moment, planning for Christmas now is a wise move – by taking just a few small steps each week, you can save yourself a ton of aggravation come December.
1. Get brutal with your pressie list
Will your neighbour’s Christmas really be ruined by the absence of a gift from you? Does that cousin who you haven’t seen since that wedding in 2007 really need a present, or are you spending money on them because you feel like you have to?
It’s easy to fall prey to this kind of thinking, and worrying that not getting a present for someone will hurt their feelings. To be honest though, I feel terrible when someone I consider an acquaintance gets me a gift and I haven’t thought to get them one. Try and establish from the off that you’re only getting presents for family and long-term friends that you spend the most quality time with, then no one can be left feeling red-faced!
2. Set a budget
You can’t devise the perfect Christmas plan of attack until you know exactly how much money you have to play with. Debt Remedy can help you draw up a budget and figure out how much surplus income you have each month. Once your living costs are accounted for, you could then start putting aside something small every week.
Take a look at your gift list and set a limit for each person you’re going to buy for. Children tend to be more expensive – big surprise! – but you can get away with allocating smaller amounts for adults. Let’s face it, most of us are feeling the pinch right now, so most people will understand if you can’t push the boat out.
3. Buy one present per week
If you take care of one person’s present per week, you could have your Christmas shopping nearly or completely done by December. Imagine that! Finally, you can be one of those smug so-and-sos who tell everyone in a 100-yard vicinity that they got the Christmas shopping done ages ago.
Remember to stick to your budget, and compare prices where possible. Our pals at MoneySavingExpert.com have a fantastic Amazon Discount Finder widget that conjures up bargain gift ideas based on what you can afford. What will those guys think of next?
If you do order online, be sure to log into TopCashBack and do all your online shopping via the website. This way you can earn a couple of extra coppers while you spend.
4. Check the 2-4-1 deals
Normally we would advise caution when considering a 2-4-1 deal, but with some forward planning you can get your gift-buying wrapped up in no time. Home Bargains, B&M and Argos come to mind as some of the great places to tick off at least two presents for the kids. They also have great deals on bath sets, cosmetics and wrapping paper too!
5. Make a gift, make a saving
You don’t need to be a craft expert to make a lovely gift from scratch. All it needs is a bit of creative know-how.
James recently wrote a blogpost talking all about how you can make splendid pressies with very little cost involved. Granted, it was a birthday blogpost but there are ideas on there that will come in handy all year round. There’s also this Crafty Christmas gift blogpost I wrote back in 2012.
6. Check your loyalty cards
If you’re canny with your loyalty cards, you can reap some big savings come the Christmas rush. When was the last time you checked your Tesco clubcard balance or your nectar points?
My mum in law saves her nectar points up all year round, then uses them in one go for the big Christmas food shop! Many of our Facebook followers do the same thing. If it’s too late to build up a bank of clubpoints this year, just start again come January. At least Christmas 2017 will be taken care of!
7. Square off travel costs early
According to a study conducted in 2013 by Retail Research, Christmas related travel accounts for an average of 10% of a person’s available spend. Many of the popular train ticket websites usually make Christmas tickets available around 13 weeks beforehand. Grabbing your tickets early can save you an absolute bundle. The same goes for coach tickets. Set yourself a reminder to check on October 1st.
If you’re driving home for Christmas, why not try cutting down on petrol costs now and saving the difference in a savings account or jamjar? Even an extra tenner to spend at the pumps come Christmas Eve is bound to help.
8. Don’t procrastinate!
I can appreciate the stubbornness that comes with not wanting to give in to Christmas mania too early. It’s all too easy to think that by putting it off until December, we’re actually avoiding being swept up by it all, when in actual fact the opposite might be true. Starting your Christmas shopping now means less running around like a headless turkey later – surely that’s something to be merry about!
How early do you start the big Christmas shop? Are you a last minute Christmas Eve shopper? Tell us in the comments!
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