5 Things you can do to save money this Christmas

 

By Mellisa Hutchins

Xmas debt - Featured imageIt is that time of year again. Christmas is just around the corner. And like most years I can recall, it has pounced on us like a cheetah after a gazelle. We, the unsuspecting gazelle, are both unprepared and unaware of what is about to strike.

The cheetah, or in our case, Christmas, is eyeing up its prey, ready and waiting to give the poor gazelle the fright of its life.

Now, there is an obvious end to this story – the cheetah strikes the gazelle by the throat – but for the sake of this article, we are going to rewrite the ending. Like the cheetah, Christmas has certainly emerged from nowhere, and, for the majority of us, we are in no way financially prepared for the expenses it brings.

This year, around 27% of us will put Christmas on credit according to figures released by uSwitch. 9 million people will enter the festive season still carrying the debt from last Christmas. By the end of the festive holidays, a total of 14 million people will be in debt. Since when did the meaning of Christmas become debt? There is no need to ruin 2016 just for the sake of one day during the year.

Ask yourself, why do you feel the need to put yourself into a vicious cycle of debt and despair? Is the answer A) Because I am expected to, B) Because I don’t want to let anyone down at Christmas, C) Because Christmas is all about presents and giving, or, D) Because that is what Christmas is about. If the answer is any of the above, then you have been sucked into the commercialised monstrosity that shops have developed into their very own version of ‘Christmas’.

Remember earlier I mentioned ‘rewrite the ending’? Well, this year, why not take it upon yourself to be the gazelle that fights back. Take control of your Christmas and have the best year yet. Celebrate Christmas 2015 on a budget.

CHRISTMAS ON A BUDGET

1) Secret Santa

The reality is, for a lot of us this Christmas, we simply cannot afford to buy for everyone. As much as we would love to have the cash to buy for all of our family members or friends, it just is not possible. So, if you know that you are all spending Christmas together, why not suggest Secret Santa. The likelihood is that you will all be in the same boat. Explain that things are a bit tight this year and you are not in the position to buy presents for everyone. Secret Santa puts the fun back into Christmas and it keeps everyone guessing. Come Christmas day everyone will be bursting with excitement!

2) Christmas Cards

If your financial situation puts you into a position where presents just aren’t an option for you this year, try sending Christmas cards. Again, take the time to explain to your loved ones that Christmas doesn’t agree with your bank account. Family and friends will always be understanding to your situation, because one day they may find themselves in the same circumstances. Christmas cards come as cheap as chips these days, or, if you have a creative flair why not make your own. Homemade cards always speak volumes because you have taken the time to personalise each and every one. Instead of writing a generic ‘merry Christmas’, write a message that is personal to them to show that you have made an extra special effort.

3) Restricted spending

This is only for those who have some money to spend this Christmas, but do not have a huge amount to work with. Set a budget to work with, know how much you have and stick to it. Make sure you restrict your spending to people who you need to buy for; stop buying for unnecessary people. If you have decided to spend £20 per person, then spend £20 and do not spend a penny more. It is all very well overspending by a couple of pounds each time, but by the time you have added it all up, you have spent way beyond your means. There are plenty of shops and websites that do quirky and personalised gifts for £20 and under, so you should have no excuse for not sticking to your budget.

4) Quality time

This is absolutely free and no present could ever compare to spending quality time with your loved ones. What you have to remember is Christmas never was and never has been about gift giving. The principle of gift giving has come from the ‘commercial Christmas’, as a ploy for shops to discretely con you from your money without realising. Now, I don’t mean to be Scrooge – I am a big kid when it comes to Christmas! – But you need to realise that the only expectations that come with Christmas are the ones that retail set. Don’t fall into the trap. This is especially true if you have children; the biggest and best present that your children could ever receive this Christmas is your attention. If mummy and daddy have been working all hours of everyday, what more could you do for them than give them the gift of you.

5) The last resort

Should you find yourself in an extremely difficult financial situation this Christmas, then this is the last resort. If you need to use credit to afford your Christmas, it is crucial that you do it in a responsible way. Do your research and find a credit card that is suited to you. Before you even look for a credit card, make sure that you will be able to make the monthly repayments on time and in full. If a credit card is necessary then you may be able to spread the costs by getting a card with 0% interest on purchases. To look for your eligibility check out www.moneysavingexpert.com and please make sure you follow the advice given. Only use your credit card to buy necessary essentials. Do not go overboard. Once you have made all the repayments cut up the card and throw it away.

This Christmas doesn’t have to be stressful. It doesn’t have to be a disaster. And it certainly doesn’t have to ruin the New Year ahead. Don’t let the cheetah strike! Take a moment and organise yourself to save the embarrassment this Christmas. And remember, Christmas isn’t about giving presents. It’s about giving up your time.

Merry Christmas folks.

Posted in: Lifestyle, Recent Posts

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