Getting Financially Prepared For Christmas
Christmas may seem a while away, but it’ll be here before you know it.
With only two months left before the big day and all the monthly bills and commitments you already have, you may end up spending more than you bargained for, facing a hefty bill come January.
It can feel like there is a great deal of pressure to spend over Christmas, but it’s never worth putting yourself through stress and worry in the New Year or getting into debt you can’t manage.
Nick Hill, Money Expert at the Money and Pensions Service has some tips to keep your budget on track:
Set a budget before planning the perfect Christmas. You can use the Money Advice Service free Christmas budget planner to get a snapshot of your spending. The average UK family planned to spend over £800 at Christmas in recent years, so it’s important to plan ahead. A good way to curb spending is to look at whether you overspent last year. Prioritise what makes Christmas special by writing a list of essentials, these may not all be gifts but rather Christmas traditions and time spent with loved ones.
Bring your children into the Christmas planning process! Our research shows that 33% of parents report that caving into ‘pester power’ has caused them to go overdrawn or take on new credit. Including your kids in the budgeting process teaches them the value of money and helps resist this issue. It’s ok to say ‘no’. Giving them a little money and assigning responsibility for a small part of the Christmas shop can help them feel included and give them an important role to play come Christmas. There’s lots of engaging ideas about how to talk to your children about money on our website.
You can find some great deals in the run up to the festive season, consider buying your turkey or Christmas main now and freezing it until Christmas. For gift shopping, if you are planning on taking advantage of promotional shopping days like Black Friday, it’s always worth shopping around for the best price and quality. There are useful websites where you can also check how much certain products have been sold for before Black Friday. Camelcamelcamel.com is one example that provides price history for products sold on Amazon. If you’re pooling your money with others to buy someone an extra special gift, search for the best offers in advance.
Don’t be afraid to tell loved ones if money is tight or you can’t afford the additional expenses that rack up over the season, their reactions may surprise you. There are many ways to celebrate the festive period, such as agreeing to exchange gifts after the Boxing Day sales or gifting time to look after the children for a weekend or washing their car. The Money Advice Service website has guides for talking to your partner about money providing support on what can be a difficult topic.
Try to avoid high-cost credit, as small debts can quickly grow and remember not to spend all your available cash. Cold weather can bring with it unexpected bills such as car trouble or a boiler breakdown.
If you do manage to stick to your budget over Christmas, why not take your skills into the New Year? Try setting yourself another goal, such as saving for your next holiday or for that rainy-day fund we all know we’ll need. It’s ok to start small. You could make it automatic by setting up a direct debt into a savings account that pays interest. Taking control of your money is the best gift you can give yourself.