Should you already be saving for Christmas?
Jane Symonds, money expert at the Money Advice Service, says: “Christmas can easily turn from an exciting time with the family to a big financial stress. If you haven’t already set a budget, now is a good time to take control of your spending. It’s important to know that you don’t have to live beyond your means to make it a fun time, especially if you plan well in advance.”
Here are five tips from the MAS for making the festive season a little more affordable:
Fix your budget
Make a detailed list of everything you’ll need for the season, from presents and decorations to food, transport and alcohol. Build a realistic budget around this figure and keep a careful list of everything you spend so that you don’t blow it. Also be aware that you may need some cash reserves for those grim mid-January bills.
Top up your Christmas fund
Look for ways to cut your day-to-day spending in the months before the holidays and put the money you’ve saved into your Christmas fund. Limiting takeaways, bringing a packed lunch to work and swapping your morning latte for an instant coffee can leave you with a healthy chunk of change by the time Christmas shopping rolls around.
Keep an eye out for offers
Be open to shopping online or offline – the important thing is price. Watch for special offers and check for discount vouchers online and in newspapers. Always double check delivery costs to avoid a shock at checkout.
Think carefully about how you borrow extra cash. Using a credit card or extending your overdraft can have very different costs from provider to provider, but both are almost guaranteed to be cheaper than a payday loan. Planning ahead can help you find the best possible deal – by, for example, changing to a bank with a fee-free overdraft.
Resolve to start early next year
Christmas does come every year, and with that in mind it’s never too early to start saving. Open a savings account and transfer a set amount via Direct Debit every payday. You’ll soon learn to live without the money, and even a small amount will add up over the year.