Christmas is an expensive time of year for everyone. Research from the Money Advice Trust’s National Debtline found that the average British family spends £800+ on Christmas. Such a substantial amount of cash can be difficult to find in one go. However, there are ways to reduce this total. If you’re smart, you can cut the cost of Christmas right now.
Start planning now
Some of the most expensive mistakes we make at Christmas are the result of last minute panic buying. From gifts, through to the turkey, if you’re buying everything on Christmas Eve then choice is limited and prices high. Even leaving all your shopping until December can mean your budget suffers. To avoid the chaos that can lead to over spending, start planning now. Make decisions about gift choices, where the turkey is coming from and when you’re going to make purchases. Getting organised well in advance gives you the luxury of time and being able to shop around.
Make use of sales
Between now and Christmas, some of the year’s biggest sales take place. There are annual seasonal sales (mid-season), as well as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year Black Friday falls on November 25th and Cyber Monday on November 28th. Discounts on online purchases can be vast across this weekend, which makes it the perfect time to buy gifts. High street stores also offer huge reductions in price across these four days. So, whether you’re looking for toys for the kids, electronics for your other half or beauty bargains, this is a great time to buy them at a big discount.
Look out for the special offers
Food is one expense that none of us can avoid at Christmas, as it’s such an important part of the festivities. From the start of November, through to Christmas Eve, supermarkets and food stores run an almost continuous programme of deals and discounts. If you start early then you can buy virtually everything you need as part of a deal. Perishable foods, such as the turkey, fruit and vegetables are necessarily relatively last minute. However, dried fruit, frozen party food, nuts and snacks, chocolate and tubs of sweets can all be purchased well in advance. Alcohol is another big part of Christmas celebrations. As many of us like to indulge in champagne at this time of year it can be expensive. Start buying the alcohol that you’d like for your festivities now and spread the cost over the next month or so. Look out for deals on bottles of wine and champagne and discounts on spirits and beer.
Work out where the cash is going to come from
If you need to borrow to fund Christmas then finding the right personal loan or credit card is best done early. Leaving this to the last minute will mean you end up with terms that don’t suit what you need and borrowing that is costly. Look for credit cards that offer 0% on purchases so you have time to pay back the money, interest free. Low cost personal loans with reduced interest rates and generous repayment periods can help take the stress out of the season. Just make sure that you only borrow what you need and what you can afford to repay.
Make it yourself
Handcrafting is a big trend this year and you can really cut the cost of Christmas by making things yourself. If you’re a talented knitter then a few balls of wool could create gifts for all the kids. If baking is your thing then there’s no need to buy in edibles such as Christmas cake and mince pies. Talents in carpentry, painting, art, music and dressmaking can all help create gifts where the expense is your time, rather than your money. Even if you’re not particularly talented there are some simple ways to be creative and cut costs. Most of us can manage to make our own Christmas cards, for example, and gifts such as homemade jam or chutney are very simple to create with a recipe online.
Book your travel now
If you’re travelling at Christmas then the cost of a train or a plane will rise the closer you get to the event. Booking train tickets even a month in advance can considerably cut your costs. Look online for flight sales and consider a journey with stopovers, as this can be much cheaper. Look at alternatives too, such as coach travel and carpooling.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley