Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

How to budget during Christmas

Christmas always seems to roll around too fast, and this year is no exception. With this celebration comes many additional costs, the main one being presents. The average Briton spends over £500 on Christmas presents, so what can you do to make sure you don’t end up deep in your overdraft this year?

The most sensible financial advice would be to plan ahead and put away some money each month in the lead up to Christmas. This would definitely take the stress out of trying to magic up some money right before Christmas. However, this is definitely not an option for everyone, especially given the rough year we have experienced.

Christmas is about spending time with loved ones

So, if you have not been planning ahead, here are some top tips for what you can do to make the present shopping process a little easier on you and your wallet.

  1. Decide how much you can spend. Once you have chosen how much money you can afford to spend, make a list of who you need to buy presents for. This will enable you to work out a budget per person and, assuming you stick to it, you will no go overboard. Of course, the budget can be slightly altered, for example you may get your partner a more expensive present then you would get a distant relative.
  2. Make the best of the sales. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great opportunities to pick up some gifts at a reduced cost. However, it is very easy to buy way more than you intended to. To avoid this, make a list of what items you are looking for and stick to it.
  3. Arrange a Secret Santa. If you are planning to exchange gifts in a group, for example housemates or family members, propose the idea of a Secret Santa. This way, you will only be responsible for one gift which will save you money as well as the hassle of shopping.
  4. Make your own gifts. Handmade items are usually so much more sentimental than your generic shop bought items. You don’t need to be a super skilled craftsman, you just need a little bit of time and imagination (Google is full of ideas too). Most handmade gifts are usually very cheap to produce.
  5. Plan an experience. This option is bound to be memorable. Most people love to experience things, whether that is a mini break or a fancy dinner. The budget for this can be as high or low as you like. With a little imagination, you can turn a cheap day out into one of your best memories. Booking something for the future is also a nice gift as it would give the recipient something to look forward to. Although I’m not sure how wise it is to book anything for early 2021 given the current state of the world.
  6. Think outside the box. It can be very hard to think of gifts for people who seem to have it all. So why not get them something that is not physical but very personal and thoughtful. For example, you could sponsor their favourite animal in their name or name a star after them. Whatever your budget, think carefully about what the person would like.

It can be as simple as noting down things that your family and friends mention they would like throughout the year

Hopefully these tips will make your life a little easier when it comes to managing your money at Christmas time. I would highly recommend to plan ahead for future years. As pointless as it may seem in January, you will be thanking yourself when December inevitably rolls around. This doesn’t necessarily have to be anything extreme like starting a savings account just for Christmas. It can be as simple as noting down things that your family and friends mention they would like throughout the year. They will be shocked at your thoughtfulness and memory when they realise you have been listening all along.

Finally, please remember that as cliché as it sounds, Christmas is about spending time with loved ones. After the year we have had the biggest gift we can wish for is that we will be able to spend Christmas with our families. So don’t worry too much if you couldn’t buy or spend as much as you would’ve liked on presents.

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