Christmas is just around the corner now and for many of us that means a last minute mad dash to try and organise everything that we simply haven’t had time for until now. If the last time you look at the calendar it was October, and you just don’t know where the time has gone, then you’re not alone. A survey this December by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks’ revealed that 14% of the UK population wait until Christmas Eve to make a crazy trip to the shops to try and get everything, from turkey to presents. These ‘panic buyers’ made up the second biggest type of shopping group in the survey with figures even worse in London where 20% of people would be white knuckling it around the shops on December 24th. But how do you pay for a last minute Christmas without the spending getting out of control?
Have a budget
The main issue that many of us have with a last minute Christmas is the fact that this tends to result in wild spending. Panic buying is the Christmas equivalent to browsing – without a clear idea of a budget in your mind, or even an vague concept of what you’re looking for, you are highly likely to find yourself making some poor choices. If you’re attempting to get everything in a short space of time then there’s even more reason to plan your purchases and allocate a spend to each one than if you’ve been Christmas shopping since the summer.
If you’re suffering from confusion about when exactly the sales happen in the UK these days then you’re not alone. We’ve had Black Friday and Cyber Monday at the start of the month and now many of the major retailers are offering even bigger discounts in their ‘winter sales.’ This is great news for the last minute shopper as it genuinely means that you can get what you need without paying full price for it. Some stores start their Boxing Day sales on Christmas Eve so there are even more bargains on the horizon to help make sure you last minute Christmas comes in on budget.
If you borrow, do it wisely
Christmas is expensive for everyone and if you can afford to borrow to finance it then there are plenty of options out there. The important part of borrowing at this time of year is to make sure that you only only borrow what you can afford to repay and to select a type of borrowing that makes sense for you. If you need a small amount of money and you want to repay it quickly in January then payday loans are an easy option. For a larger amount that you want to repay in smaller sums over a longer period, opt for an instalment loan. You might prefer a revolving facility or even credit cards – debt can be helpful as long as you don’t misuse it and you do intend to pay it back.
Think outside the (gift) box
Another issue with panic buying is that you don’t have a lot of time in which to get creative with your gifts and so the temptation is to throw money at the problem to make it go away. Realistically, in this day and age, the shelves are never empty so you’re unlikely to be so stuck without a choice of gifts that you need to break the bank. It’s always worth checking online to see if any stores are still delivering (ASOS.com, for example has a last orders date of 23rd December) and you could also opt for gifts that you can simply print out – a spa day, for example, or tickets to a show. The best way to get these gifts at a discount is via a voucher website or an outlet offering low price tickets.
Vintage is, of course, just another word for ‘second hand’ and if you’re struggling with a tight budget this year you will get much more for your money shopping in a second hand store than you will in department stores and boutiques. Some of the best finds in vintage stores tend to be jewellery and ornaments – carnival glass vases, necklaces and pins, as well as silk scarves, leather bags and books all come at a fraction of the new price, regardless of the designer label. Plus, what you’re buying is completely unique, which scores major brownie points for thoughtfulness.
Oliver Jones has written for Solution Loans since 2015. His passion for personal finance comes through in the 150+ blog posts he's written since that time. His talent for explaining all things money means he's covered topics as diverse as...Read more about Oliver Jones