As the cost of living continues to rise, we’re all beginning to feel the pinch.
Christmas is still five months away, so now is the perfect time plan for any cutbacks you might need to make this year.
I recommend having a good look at your budget and making some decisions about what you can afford to spend on the festivities, taking into account that energy bills are predicted to increase by another 30% this winter.
It’s important to try and be as realistic as you can, even if you don’t like the conclusions you come to.
Explain to family and friends that you’re having to make cost savings – it’s a difficult time for everyone, so they should understand.
If you’re going to have to cut back a lot, try not to be downhearted and keep in mind that Christmas isn’t a competition.
Instead it’s a time for love, for family and friends, and for showing that you care in the ways that you can.
Perhaps this is the year to spend more of your time with people instead of spending money on them?
With some extra thought and planning you can use this Christmas as an opportunity to create some wonderful new memories and traditions that will last a lifetime.
Share the cost of Christmas lunch
If you usually host on Christmas Day and your budget is looking tight, now’s the time to talk to your guests about it – one of them might even offer to step up.
Another way to spread the cost of food is for everyone to contribute an element (or two) of Christmas lunch – it also means there’s less time pressure all on one person.
You could consider serving a cheaper alternative to turkey – good options include chicken or a vegetarian dish.
Not spending on ‘unnecessary extras’ can also help save lots of cash, with the cost of tins of chocolates, cheese boards and bottles of alcohol all adding up, especially after recent price rises.
Cut down on gift giving
If you usually give presents to extended family, friends and work colleagues, cutting back could be a way to save some money.
It’s a good idea to tell them now so they won’t feel obliged to buy you anything this year – you never know, they might be as relieved as you are.
Or you could agree to do Secret Santa and set a very low budget, say £1 or £2….then see what you can rustle up from the pound shops!
Give time, not money
Looking back at your favourite childhood Christmas memories, I bet it was the simple (and probably free!) Christmas traditions you loved the best.
I remember feeling so happy when my granddad read to me from an old Rupert Bear book every Christmas Eve, and one year when a neighbour showed me how to make woolly pompoms.
Older children and teenagers might appreciate being given control of the TV remote for a day.
But whether it’s breakfast in bed, babysitting, cleaning the car or doing the gardening, the gift of your time will be highly valued by your friends and family.
Do free stuff
With some planning and creativity, it’s possible to create some festive spirit this December – and get out of the house – without having to spend a fortune.
- Going to see the Christmas lights being switched on
- Go for a winter walk in the countryside, collecting pine cones for homemade Christmas decorations
- Watch your family’s favourite Christmas film on the sofa or hold a board game marathon!
Make your own gifts and decorations
Most people will appreciate a present you’ve made yourself much more than something you’ve bought in a shop.
Think carefully about your recipient and what they really like – and look on Pinterest for ideas for things you could make.
It can also be cheaper to make your own decorations – for example you can use loo roll tubes and old gift wrap to make Christmas crackers for the dinner table.
Plan carefully, though: it can end up costing more money to make something from scratch than buying it from a shop.
Buy pre-loved presents
Charity shops and online marketplaces like ebay are a treasure trove of bargains, particularly for clothes and children’s toys; some of them are even brand new!
You can find unusual and special gifts for your loved ones – and help save the planet by reusing rather rather than buying new.
Be a savvy online shopper
If you know you’re going to be buying multiple items from one website, save up and buy them all at the same time to reduce the amount you pay for delivery – or consider click and collect as lots of retailers offer this as a free option.
It’s also worth checking a website’s homepage carefully to see if there are any discount codes on offer – or they might send you an offer if you sign up to their email newsletter.
Cashback websites are another really easy way to save money – loads of the top retail websites will (eventually) send you a percentage of your purchase in cashback for visiting them via Topcashback or Quidco, for example.
Don’t forget your loyalty card points
It’s so easy to swipe your Advantage or Nectar cards and lose track of how many points you’ve accrued – and what they’re worth!
Check your balance and have a close look at what’s on offer – sometimes you can exchange your points for something of higher value compared to simply ‘spending’ them in the shop or supermarket.
Make your own wrapping paper
Jazz up some cheap brown parcel paper with sprigs of evergreen or a pine cone – or collect newspapers and magazines with festive images and use it to wrap your presents, topping them off with some brightly-coloured ribbon.
Swap, don’t shop
If you’ll have a Christmas work do or drinks with friends to go to, rather than splashing out on a new outfit, why not swap favourite (but old) party clothes with a friend?
You’ll both save lots of money and feel like you’re wearing something new!
Send digital Christmas cards
The cost of sending Christmas cards can really add up, especially the postage.
You could send fewer cards this year, and/or look into digital cards instead – lots of e-card websites have free designs you can choose from.
Check out my blog post on my favourite e-card websites for more on this money (and planet) saving option.
I hope these tips help you plan your spending and save you some money this Christmas. Let me know if you have any tips of your own!
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