According to the Bank of England, the average UK household spends over £2,500 each month, but on the run up to Christmas all that changes. During the month of December, a typical household spends over £800 extra – now that’s a lot of mince pieces and crackers. Its estimated that we spend 39% more on alcohol and a massive 116% more on music and entertainment. But this year has been like no other, the effects of Covid-19, businesses struggling to keep their heads above water and subsequent impact on employment has changed how we all live our lives.
So what can you do this year to make your money go further for Christmas? Here’s our top 10 money saving tips.
- Budget: plan ahead and ask yourself what you can afford? Write down what you can spend on food, presents, decorations, alcohol, eating out and socialising, so you have a budget in mind each time you reach into your wallet or purse. Write down what you are spending and keep receipts, as boring as it sounds, it is a great way to visualise and track your finances. There is a great budgeting tool from Martin Lewis that helps manage your incomings and outgoings, so you don’t get into debt and only buy what you can actually afford.
- Shop around: Be a savvy shopper and shop around for the best deals. There are bargains to be had right now; Black Friday deals, stock clearances and early sales have retailers fighting for your business. Use comparison sites for larger items and spending 5 mins searching for presents on Google can save you a lot of money in the long run.
- Cut down on presents: Really consider what you are buying and who you are buying for. Don’t waste money on novelty items or gimmicks that would normally get thrown in the bin after a week. This year, focus on key gifts and avoid all the stocking fillers you would normally buy. For those with children this is key, as parents on www.mumsnet.co.uk admit to spending on average £50 on ‘knick-knacks’ and ‘stocking fillers’ for their children. Instead, go to budget stores like Poundland or the 99p shop, sent yourself a budget and buy only a small handful of stocking fillers.
- Make a shopping list and stick to it: Don’t carried away at the supermarket on fancy Christmas food. Only buy what you need for the number of guests you have coming. The new regulations for mixing with other households should naturally cut down on what you spend for Christmas day this year, but still remember to shop sensibly and don’t over fill your trolley. There is great temptation to grab lots of ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ promotions at the supermarket but walk past them if its not on your shopping list. Stick to your list as much as possible to avoid unnecessary expenses at the checkout!
- Re-use your Christmas decorations: Get up into the attic and dig out all your decorations. Don’t buy new lights, decorations or baubles this year, use what you already have at home. According to research, 75% of Brits spend on average £185 each year on Christmas decorations, so reusing what you already have can save a lot of money to spend elsewhere or help clear any debt.
- Shop on local selling sites: There are lots of bargains to be had on selling sites such as ebay, Gumtree or local Facebook sites. This is especially true for children’s toys and games, as many have used their time over lockdown to clear out toy cupboards and sell off unloved or unused toys. Grabbing a second-hand bargain can save lots of money, and children do not know if a toy is second hand or not, all they see is something shiny and new to play with. It’s not only better for your wallet or purse, it’s also better for the environment and cuts down on waste, especially unrecyclable hard-plastic. As the age-old saying goes; ‘someone’s trash, is someone else’s treasure’.
- Get crafty: This year, make your own gift tags and Christmas cards. If you have kids, get them involved. It’s amazing what you can make from craft scraps around the home, so be creative and use what you have lying around. There is a ton of videos on YouTube for you to copy ideas from and Pinterest is another great site for inspiration. Personalising a homemade card for someone, especially an elderly relative or grandparent, will mean far more to them than a shop bought card. Once you have made the cards, hand deliver as many as you can to local friends and family, saving on the stamps will soon add up!
- Get selling: Look around your home and start selling what you don’t use or need anymore. If you haven’t used or worn something for more than a year, consider if you really need it. If not, then sell it. How many people have kitchen gadgets stashed in the back of a cupboard, clothes that no longer fit, or toys the kids no longer use? All these things, if in good condition, can be sold on selling sites. Be ruthless, be brave and start to declutter.
- Secret Santa: This is a great way to cut down on the quantity of gifts you have to buy and how much you spend. If you haven’t done a secret Santa before, it’s very easy. You simply decide who wants to take part, put everyone’s name into a hat and then each person pulls out a name. Whoever’s name you pull out, you buy a gift for. You can set a budget and its usually done anonymously. This is great if you work in an office or have a large extended family as you only buy one present, yet it ensures everyone gets a gift!
- Buy in January for next year: It may sound crazy buying Christmas presents in January nearly a year in advance, could save you hundreds of pounds for next year’s Christmas. Just be sensible, and again remember to budget when you hit the sales. Put away the presents you buy, keeping a note of what you have bought and make sure you don’t forget about them.
Christmas is a time for spending time with loved ones, friends and family, but as we all know 2020 has been a year like no other and Christmas will be very different for many. Spending hundreds of pounds, that you may not have, just isn’t worth it for one day. Your nearest and dearest won’t mind if you have to skip presents for this year and will understand if you can’t feed as much food and drink as you once could.
Above all, one of the best gifts to give that doesn’t cost a penny – is the gift of time. Giving the gift of time could mean far more to people this year than ever before. So set yourself aside some quality time to sit down and chat, call or email your friends and family. It really could mean the world.
We hope you have found these hints and tips handy. Happy planning, stay safe and have a great festive season.