Ten Tips to get Christmas sorted!

Money saving tips for Christmas from LoanPig.

We hate to say it but Christmas is coming! Even though it hardly seems five minutes since last Christmas, it’s already that time of year when the clocks are going back, the evenings are darker earlier, and the battle of the Christmas ads is about to begin.
Many of us dread Christmas. We don’t want to: we want to be swept along in the tide of Christmas cheer that seems to engulf all those around us. Which can make us feel very like Scrooge! The problem is money. How can we let go and enjoy ourselves when we are constantly worried about either not being able to pay for things or sliding deeper into debt?
So let’s take a deep breath and look at some ways that we can plan ahead for a Christmas that is heavenly but doesn’t cost the earth.
Here are our Ten Tips:
  1. Decide now what you are doing
This is the first thing to get sorted. Within families Christmas can often lead to squabbles. For that reason we can tend to put off the awkward conversations and the decision-making until nearer the time. But this can lead to a lot of last-minute juggling and you are likely to spend more money if you are rushing around trying to sort out presents and hospitality for unexpected guests.
As well as family, perhaps rethink some of what you do when you meet up with friends. Many of us end up with a lot of different gatherings, and if these are all in pubs or restaurants it can get horribly expensive. So this year why not organise at least some of the get-togethers in people’s’ homes, with everyone contributing food and drink to the party. This will be cheaper than splashing out money you can’t really afford in pubs and restaurants – but just as much fun.
So get these kind of decisions made now so that you have time to plan accordingly and follow our remainingmoney savingtips. Then when Christmas does come round, you will be sorted and ready to have fun!
  1. Plan your budget
The next big thing to do is make a budget. Many of us are scared to do this because it can be horrifying to see how much money you are really spending. But it is much better to face reality than end up in a complete financial mess in January, as it can then take you months to recover from this.
So make a list of absolutely everything that you think you will need to buy this Christmas: presents, cards, postage, decorations, food, drink, extra home supplies (bedding, towels etc) for guests, socialising, travel and anything else that you think you might need to spend. If in doubt, include it: better to over budget than not have enough.
You will then be able to see whether you have enough money to cover everything that you are currently planning to spend, or whether you need to follow some more of ourmoney savingtips below!
  1. Stick to your budget
But before leaving the topic of budgets, make sure that once you have done your budget, you do stick to it! Budgets can look completely workable on paper, but it is all too easy to overspend and still end up in a mess without understanding why.
So you need to keep track of your budget carefully. Record details of everything you spend on Christmas, either in a notebook or on your computer or phone. You can then see if you are overspending on a particular area and then need to cut down on something else in your budget to keep within your spending limits.
  1. Presents – reduce the number you give
We all love to give presents but there comes a time when you have to reconsider. Let’s be honest, there are people that get harder and harder to buy for each year, and their gifts to you are probably pretty predictable too. It is often a good idea to agree either to stop the presents or to do them in a different way. So for example if you have brothers and sisters with their own families then you could agree just to buy presents for the children from now on. For the adults perhaps you could either do a Secret Santa between you all, or each take turns to host a special event – an “unofficial Christmas” – during the year.
  1. Presents – set an upper limit on price
Another consideration when buying presents, especially for children of family members, is to agree an upper price limit and then all be rigorous about sticking to it. This really helps with the budgeting and can even make it a fun challenge when you know you simply cannot spend more than what you have agreed. This is a great way tosave moneyand also avoid the embarrassment caused by exchanging gifts that have obviously cost very different amounts.
  1. Presents – get the best deals
When buying presents it is so easy to get carried away and panic that your gift is not going to be good enough. So it can be really helpful to get back to basics. It’s the thought that counts, not the amount spent on it. If you are really trying to get your finances in order then be open-minded about where you get those presents. Once you have decided the kind of thing you want, then look for a really good deal – for example on an online sites such as eBay, in a charity shop or even inthe Black Friday sales in November. If you allow yourself plenty of time then you just might be able to pick up a real bargain.
  1. Presents – be creative
One final thought on presents is that you can save a lot of money by being creative. Is there anything that you could make for gifts rather than buying what someone else has made? Whether you can sew or knit, make jewellery, paint pictures or bake cupcakes; there is a lot of potential for homemade gifts which are often appreciated way more than something off the shelf.
If you are really up against it financially then another idea is to offer your time instead of a gift. Simply think about what you are good at and could offer, and prepare a pretty home made voucher that commits you to provide this during the year. Whether it’s babysitting, dog walking, decorating, DIY, car maintenance or computer wizardry; giving someone a definite offer to do this can really be the best Christmas gift ever: the gift that goes on giving.
  1. Cut down the cost of food
Let’s face it: we all eat far too much over Christmas. This means that we also spend too much money buying too much food, and create a lot of waste. Make this year different! It’s perfectly possible to have a wonderful Christmas with plenty to eat, but without spending a fortune.
A lot of overspending on food happens when we leave too much to the last minute then panic buy because we suddenly worry that there will not be enough food. So the key thing to do is to plan your menus carefully then just buy what you actually need.
So sit down with either some Christmas recipe books or the Internet, and plan what you are going to cook and when. Two ways to save money are firstly to try and plan dishes that use some of the same ingredients so that you can buy in bulk and save money that way. Secondly be realistic about your portion sizes. You want people to have enough but not to be left with mountains of waste. Check out websites such as Love Food, Hate Waste for guidance on portion sizes.
Once you have done your planning then start shopping. Start now! If you buy as much as you can in advance this will spread the cost and avoid last minute rushing around. It’s also a good idea to plan a time when you will do that last minute shopping so that you feel in control of it; why not put a date in the diary that you can work towards. Nearer that time check out the best supermarket deals for the things you want. Even if that means splitting your shopping between two or three different stores it will be worth it to get the best combination of money-saving deals around.
  1. Cut down the cost of drink
Just as with food, most of us also spend far too much money on drink over Christmas. We feel obliged to have supplies of every kind of drink possible “just in case”. It is impossible for the average household to be as well-stocked as the local pub, so this year why not just make sure that you have a plentiful supply of the most popular drinks – eg beer, wine, cider and soft drinks – and if guests have other preferences then ask them to bring their own.
Most of us also drink far too much over the festive season so perhaps it’s time to embrace the concept of drink free days and have some days when you lay off the alcohol. Not only will this be cheaper but you will feel a lot better, and will enjoy a few drinks even more on those days when you are drinking.
  1. Save more money for Christmas
Even if you follow all the above steps, Christmas can still be an expensive time. If you know that there will still be a shortfall in your Christmas budget then you still have time to rescue the situation.
One way is to try and find some extra work over the next few weeks. There are many seasonal opportunities in shops, bars and hotels that you may be able to fit in around existing commitments. Yes it will be tough, but it’s only for a few weeks. Or you could see if there are things you can do on an ad hoc basis such as babysitting, pet sitting, odd jobs etc.
It’s also a good time of year to have a good clear out of your home; to declutter before Christmas. This may reveal items that you no longer need, and can sell on eBay or perhaps have a car boot stall. There may be someone out there looking for the very thing that you are trying to get rid of.
Finally, you may want consider taking out a small loan to help you through Christmas. It is better to borrow money on a planned basis, with a clear timescale for paying it back, than end up drowning in uncontrolled credit card debt. At LoanPig we offer a range of short term loans that could be just what you are looking for. Loans that you can repay in affordable instalments over a time period that works with your budget. Click here to find out more about this possibility.
Whatever your plans for Christmas 2018, we hope that our Ten Tips help you to manage your money more effectively – andsave moneywherever possible – so that you can really enjoy Christmas this year.
Check back here soon for more money saving tips from LoanPig.