Christmas is fast approaching and, before you know it, the streets will be glowing with festive lights, the scent of mulled wine and spices will fill the air and stores will be bursting with shoppers. However, the Yuletide season also means added expenses, which we could all do without.
This is why I’ve put together some tips on how to reduce expenditure over Christmas, so you can enjoy the season even if you have financial troubles and are on an IVA plan or another debt arrangement.
• Create a budget
The first thing I do to prevent my spending from going out of control at Christmas is to set a budget. If you have a big family like me, you can easily end up spending hundreds of pounds getting everyone a lovely gift. However, this is often money you don’t have spare, so come up with a realistic budget – and make sure you stick to it!
• Shop in advance
Buying presents, food and drink in advance is a great idea for many reasons. Firstly, it means you can spread the costs so you’re not forking out for all the expenses in one month. Secondly, you can often take advantage of lots of deals if you start buying early.
Supermarkets regularly have promotions on festive products in October and November, and you could save a fortune on chocolates, mince pies, Christmas cakes and alcohol – even if you think it’s too early to stock up on Yuletide staples, it’s worth it if it means you can spend less later.
Shopping in advance also means you have the luxury of time when it comes to looking for items in the pre-Christmas sale. If you take it slowly and grab something when you notice it is on offer, you will end up saving a lot of cash.
• Secret Santa
Don’t forget that Christmas isn’t entirely about presents and you don’t need to buy everyone in your family and friendship group a gift. It is always worth suggesting doing a Secret Santa instead, which involves everyone putting their name in a hat so that you only have to buy one present in total instead of one for each person.
• Make presents
Another way to save money when it comes to gifts is to make them. Okay, so I’m not exactly the most creative person in the world, but there are still things I can put my hand to so I can make some presents – and some savings.
One of my favourite options is creating a hamper of tasty goodies such as chutneys, jams and Christmas cake and giving these away to loved ones. They’ll love the gesture and appreciate all the effort you went to making them, plus it’s far more cost-effective than buying lots of presents.
• Host a party
This doesn’t sound like the cheapest idea, but you can often end up going to numerous parties during the festive season, all of which end up costing a fortune! So, if you host a party yourself, you can cut down on how often you go out and you will find that you save money on buying alcohol and food, as opposed to getting drinks or dinner out.
You could even get your friends to contribute to the cost, or ask each of them to bring something of their own to cut down on shopping bills.
• Get creative in the kitchen
Another way that I particularly love to save money is to get cooking. One of the best things about Christmas is its food (well, it is to me anyway!) and I indulge in mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding, Yuletide dinners, and all manner of chocolates and sweets before the festive season comes to an end.
However, while the supermarkets earn a fortune during this period, your bank balance slowly diminishes. I find that by baking mince pies and all the treats myself and making the Christmas dinner – and any other festive meals we have – from scratch, you can end up saving a lot of money. After all, it barely costs anything to make pastry and get some mincemeat filling, while you might pay over the odds for the same delicious bakes in the stores!