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Brits spend two weeks’ pay on Christmas

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People spend an average of £725 preparing for Christmas but the majority will overshoot their budget. Here are top tips to keep your spending in check.

Spending on Christmas presents, food, drinks and decorations averages £725. Based on the average UK salary of £29,588, this means people are sacrificing two weeks’ pay to cover the Christmas period.

Research of household finances by Nationwide Building Society reveals that 81% of those who budget go over and 38% said they don’t have a budget in the first place.

Men are more likely not to budget (42% compared to 33% of women), but it’s women who tend to overspend.

Regionally, those living in Wales are least likely to plan, with 49% saying they go with the flow when it comes to their spending. This is closely followed by those in the North East (45%), and those in Scotland (44%).

The biggest expense at Christmas is presents, averaging £363. However, 8% of the 2,000 polled said they will spend more than £800 on presents alone. Sweets, crisps and snacks come in at an average £26 while spend on alcohol is slightly more at £38.

People are also forking out an average £143 for Christmas at work, such as on secret Santa, travel, clothes and food and drink.

The research also revealed that 18% struggled financially as a result of last year’s Christmas spending with 10% ending up in their overdraft.

Alexis Conran, who presents Shop Smart, Save Money, is supporting Nationwide’s campaign to help people better understand and manage their Christmas spending.

He lists top tips to help people budget more effectively:

  • Set a realistic budget you can afford and stick to it, no matter what
  • Have a conversation with family members and work out who you need and don’t need to buy presents for. A family secret Santa can be a fun way of mixing things up
  • Consider buying preloved gifts from charity shops or online market places to keep costs down
  • Build up a contingency nest egg so you have a buffer for any unexpected spending
  • Don’t forget to budget for small things like advent calendars, decorations, cards and crackers as well as the festive activities at work, such as a secret Santa and Christmas party outfits as the small things quickly add up
  • Make sure you regularly log into the online and mobile banking apps so you can keep on top of your finances
  • Once this Christmas is over, start putting a little money away each month ready so you can spread the cost of the festive period throughout the year.

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