As soon as Halloween and Bonfire Night are done and dusted it feels like Christmas is everywhere. The supermarkets clear their shelves of trick or treat sweets and fill them with selection boxes and Christmas jumpers. The pumpkins and fireworks in the shops are replaced with cranberry sauces and frozen turkeys. The town becomes full of fairy lights and the smell of mince pies.
I have to admit, I love it all. I love the warm feeling, the way that everyone seems more cheerful in the run up to the big day, and all the delicious things there are to eat. But there is no getting away from the fact that Christmas can be expensive. Here are a few tips to keep a few more pennies in your pocket this year.
- Try handmade gifts. They don’t have to be tacky. The kids love getting involved in making gifts for the special people in their lives – think framed artwork made by the children, home made jam, chutney or cakes, or you could even get a bit more crafty and make your own body scrubs.
- Shop around for deals. Try deals at VouchaCodes – you could save a certain percentage on your shopping, you could find some great free delivery deals so you can avoid the Christmas rush, or you could even get offers on things such as TV packages ready for all the Christmas films!
- Try a cashback site. These are so simple to use – simply log on through a cashback site before clicking through to the shop you want to buy from. It takes one more click than normal, but every item you buy earns you cashback – and it all adds up! There are also some sites that allow you to donate any cashback you earn – we have the option to donate to Max’s nursery, which is what we will do this year – gives me a nice warm feeling to give something back at Christmas time.
- Set a price limit. If you buy for friends children for example, then get together before Christmas and agree a spending limit. There are a few good friends who we don’t give gifts to, and we don’t get gifts from them, but we just buy for each others children. We set a £5 limit on the item we buy too – this means that all the children get an equal value present, no one feels awkward, and we are able to budget in advance.
- Don’t worry about where the gift comes from. Charity shops are not always full of tat. You can find some real treasures if you look hard enough – at this time of year, people are clearing out to make space for Christmas things, and I have picked up so many great deals in charity shops – lots of things are brand new and still in original packaging.
- Set a final budget. Work out how much you can afford to spend on presents, food and decorations, and then break that down into sections. Stick to it. There is no point at all in getting into debt for the sake of one day, and then worrying about paying back for months. No one will notice, or care, if you spend £5 less on them this year. It’s not really about the gifts is it? It’s about coming together as a family and enjoying each others company – and that costs nothing.
How do you manage your budget at Christmas time? Do you have a spending limit, or are you a thrifty shopper? I would love to hear your tips.