Have your Christmas all wrapped up!

Christmas is just around the corner, and after a year of COVID-19 vaccination roll-outs, the excitement of England reaching the Euro 2020 final and the post-pandemic world returning to normal, we’re here to help you put your feet up and to take some of the stress out of Christmas! In the run-up to the big day, we’re going to share hints and tips on ways that you can budget and save money on decorations, food and gifts!

Last year, the average household spent £883 for Christmas and 29% of people predicted they were going to overspend. 42% of people who are financially distressed and 41% of people who are over-indebted found they were going to increase their debt just for Christmas*.

You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy yourself though. In the first of our Christmas blogs, here are our top tips on how to save money, whilst still having lots of festive fun:

How to budget Christmas shopping

Work out what you can afford
This sounds simple, but there can be lots of hidden Christmas costs. Whether it’s nativity costumes, last minute presents or snacks for the long dark evenings, all these costs add up! So, planning ahead and writing a weekly list can really help with budgeting in the run up to Christmas.

Make a list (and stick to it!)
The best way to budget is to be firm but fair with yourself! A budget is like a diet – if there’s nothing you’re going to enjoy on the list, then it isn’t going to last. Make sure when you write your list you allow yourself a small treat and, if you stick to the budget at the end of the week, you can reward yourself!

Look in charity shops for bargains!
You can support charities this Christmas by getting cards and gifts from charity shops – this could be a lot cheaper and you’d be supporting a good cause too!

When shopping this Christmas, look for discounts!
Christmas shopping can be a chore, so don’t let the queues make you panic buy. Look online before you hit the high street to make sure you get things at the best price. There will be loads of discounts in the run-up to Christmas, and even more in the sales afterwards!

Little savings can add up to a lot!
In the run-up to Christmas, we all feel the pinch, so if you’re able to cut back on the morning coffee on the way to work or get off the bus a stop earlier, all those pennies will soon add up!

Book travel in advance if you’re visiting family this Christmas!
Train tickets are generally cheaper the further in advance you buy them, so if you need some, but haven’t got them yet – start looking now!  Make sure you use any railcards or apply discounts you’re entitled to. If you’re going to be driving to see family, plan your journey to avoid rush hour times so you won’t be wasting fuel sitting in traffic!

How to make utilities cheaper

We all know that gas and electricity bills go up in the colder months, so here’s some ways that you can save money in your budget on your utilities this year while keeping your home warm and cosy during the Christmas holiday!

Switch from halogen bulbs to LED lights
LED lights can last up to 50 times longer than other lights, they’re far better for the environment and you can make huge savings.  The average household can save £160 a year by switching to LED!

Only use lights and heating when you’re home
It’s tempting to set the heating on a timer, so the house is warmed up for when you’re home but planning ahead and only using the heating when you need to is a great way to save money. Another way to cut costs is to only have lights on when you’re home. There’s no point lighting up a Christmas tree when there’s no one in the room – and it’s better for your budget.

Limit your dishwasher use!
Get everyone involved in dinner, replace the dishwasher with your partner or kids. Make an agreement that the chef gets to relax after and whoever doesn’t cook has to wash up! If you need to use the dishwasher, use the economy setting to be more energy efficient.

Have family time this Christmas!
It might be hard to tear your kids away from their phones and tablets, but the memories you’ll make playing board games or reading together will be worth it. Spend time with your children writing letters to Santa, go on winter walks with or take them to a Christmas Grotto if they’re still young enough to sit on Santa’s knee. Get your children pick a Christmas film to watch and cuddle up on the sofa to spend quality and free time together.

Christmas and debt

Don’t ignore your bills!
Sticking to your Christmas budget will help you to keep making the payments to your credit cards, loans, or debt solution. If you’re struggling to make payments though, contact us and we can help you to look at all the options available to you. 

And remember, don’t take out additional credit for Christmas – if you can’t afford something, then don’t buy it. As mentioned, there are loads of cheaper alternatives out there!

Now you’ve got our budgeting tips, hopefully you’ll be able to feel more comfortable with costs this Christmas! It’s never too soon to start planning and the more you plan, the more you’ll be able to relax and enjoy yourself.  You can find out more about how to budget in our Financial Wellbeing Hub.

Read our other blogs on how to budget this Christmas:

*Data from a YouGov survey