At this time of year, Christmas budgeting is something that’s weighing heavily on many people’s minds. It’s no secret that so many families find themselves going into the new year with crippling levels of debt, and it’s all too easy to spend way more than you intended.
It’s hard enough to survive Christmas as a single parent without having financial worries hanging round your neck, but the good news is that if you start planning right now, there are many ways that you can make your money go much further this festive period.
Get stuck into my ultimate guide to Christmas budgeting…
Set your budget THEN write your shopping list
Okay, so lots of people approach this the wrong way around, and it ends up causing some serious headaches. If you write a shopping list of everything you want, before considering your budget, then you’re going to end up with a load of stuff on there that you really don’t really want or need.
Instead, choose a figure that is comfortable for you for your Christmas budgeting. From there, work out what you can do with that cash. There’s no denying that you’ll have to prioritise and there may be things that you realise you simply can’t buy, but this is the only way to proceed if you’re determined that you won’t spend more than what you have.
Don’t shy away from having difficult conversations
Unnecessary gift buying can drain your finances, and Martin Lewis is fronting a brilliant campaign to knock this on its head. If you’re buying gifts for a long list of people, then it might be time for you to broach the subject of putting an end to this.
It can be tricky to bring up, but in many cases, people will thank you for it. It’ll also help to ensure that you don’t go into January with a load of unwanted clutter in your home. At the end of the day, Christmas should be about spending time together rather than splashing the cash for the sake of it.
Suggest a secret santa amongst your friendship group
There’s no denying that giving gifts can be fun and rewarding. So this one here might be a great compromise if you don’t want to stop it altogether. If you have a friendship group with 8 people, don’t go out and buy 8 different gifts. Instead, club together for a secret santa, and set a strict budget.
Often, it ends up being so much fun as everyone tries to guess who bought what, and the planning that went into each gift. This could also be a good idea in the workplace if the issue of gift buying is raised.
Avoid premium brands when shopping for food and drinks
Food and drink count for some of the biggest spending sprees over Christmas. You no doubt want to serve a beautiful meal for the family, but remember that doesn’t mean that you have to go for all the premium lines in the supermarket. Most of the time, they’re nothing more than a clever marketing ploy to force you into parting with more of your hard earned cash.
This year, make it your mission to try out the supermarket’s own brands, or even the value ranges. Alternatively, you could head to budget stores such as Aldi or Lidl. You can save a huge chunk of money, and it’s likely that no one will ever know the difference.
Make a note of everything you’re spending
Little purchases here and there can really mess with your Christmas budgeting. You spend a fiver on wrapping paper, and then £7 on a bottle of wine on the way home, and then you give the kids £10 each for their annual festive trip at school. Before you know it, your budget has been blown and you’re not even sure how.
The best way to keep control of things is to make a note of everything you spend. This encourages more mindful spending, and it’s a habit that really will serve you well.
Get cashback whenever you make a purchase
Did you know that there are cashback sites where you can get money back every time you spend online? If you’ll be buying gifts anyway, it makes sense to take the time to sign up for such services so you can put some of that money back into your own pocket.
TopCashback is a popular option, and it offers deals from practically every big-name retailer than you can imagine. They often run sign up incentives where you can grab anything from a free takeaway to a free make-up set, so be sure to check for any current ones before you go ahead and make your account.
If you follow this advice, then Christmas budgeting doesn’t have to give you a headache. There’s still plenty of time to get your finances in order before Santa is due to arrive.