It’s that time of year where Christmas turkeys are appearing in the supermarkets, towns and cities are erecting their festive lights, and millions are panicking because they feel financially unprepared for the holiday season. Even though Christmas falls on the same day each year, it can come as a bit of a shock to your bank balance, and only those who are super organised manage to put away enough to cover the costs.
If you’ve realised Christmas is just around the corner and you should start making some allowances for the things you’ll have to buy, check out our handy guide below. We’ll talk you through our top 8 ways to get your finances ready for Christmas and, even though it’s already November, there is still time to take positive steps to ensure this year’s festive season is kinder to your wallet (and kinder to your stress levels)!
1. Make a list…and check it twice
Before you go out to buy anything Christmas related, including gifts, food and decorations, you must first make a list. Having a list when you shop is a great way to not only save time, but to also save money. Write down the people you want to buy presents for, and then double check the list to make sure that you absolutely need to buy something for every person. Sometimes we buy Christmas gifts out of habit or because we feel we should, but this can be counterproductive. It’s perfectly okay to let people know that you’re only doing gifts for close family this year, or that you’re taking a break from your usual routine – remember that many people will be having the same concerns about Christmas affordability!
2. Check your points balances
Prior to going shopping for gifts, it’s always a good idea to check your balances on any gift cards you may have in your purse or wallet. Gift cards are a popular present choice, but shoppers don’t always get around to spending the full amount. It’s also worth checking any reward cards you may have for supermarkets or similar, as you may have earned some bonus points or even a cash balance you can spend on Christmas food.
3. Arrange Secret Santa now
We all have friends who we know from different places and who may not cross paths with the other special people in your life often. Talk with your colleagues at work, your group of friends at the pub and those who attend the same clubs as you about Secret Santa sooner rather than later. Rather than feeling obligated to buy something for everyone, you can just buy one present per group of friends and take some of the pressure off. Secret Santa is beneficial for everyone, and you’re likely to get a favourable response from those in the same situation.
4. Drop a luxury expense for November
For the month of November, save a bit of extra money for Christmas by dropping a non-essential expense. This could be delaying your next haircut until December, cutting your eating out/takeaway costs or even cancelling a subscription you no longer enjoy. Just making a small change to your usual spending routine can help you save a surprising amount of money in just a month – especially if it’s an everyday expense like coffee or a sandwich at lunch. By giving yourself a cut-off date, you don’t have to lose your little luxuries forever, and you’re more likely to succeed in holding out until you’ve boosted your Christmas piggy bank.
5. Unlock the value in your belongings
If you’re thinking a bit of extra cash would be handy in December but you’re not sure where it’s going to come from, then consider using your valuables to your advantage. Pawn loans are becoming more and more popular with people from all walks of life, and could be a help to you during the festive season. You can take out a pawn loan online against valuables like gold, silver or platinum jewellery, high end watches and antiques. You can also unlock the value in your electronic items, such as games consoles, tablets or phones with Electronic BuyBack. This could give you a bit of a boost in the run up to Christmas, and once you pay the money owed you’ll get your valuables back too. A typical pawn loan has a term of six months, but you’re welcome to make full repayment earlier to suit you.
6. Make your own gifts
If you’re concerned about the cost of gifts getting out of control, why not make your own presents where possible? If you have the skills, perhaps you could knit or crochet a scarf, make Christmas cake or cookies, or donate some of your time to give a friend a guitar lesson or similar. Gifts which are homemade or have had thought of time put into them like these examples are memorable and usually very well received. Your gran may well forget you bought her a generic bath salts set, but she’d never forget having all her favourite music uploaded onto her phone, for instance. Play to your audience and give them a gift they couldn’t manage themselves.
7. Go digital to save on stamps
Christmas cards are a popular tradition in the UK, but they are also becoming more and more expensive to send as the cost of postage rises. We may feel obligated to send cards to certain people at this time of year, but it’s a habit that can feel oppressive. Reduce the amount of cards and stamps you have to purchase by sending e-cards where possible. This is also better for the environment as a whole, and you’re likely to find many of your friends would be happy to go digital in return.
8. Book travel in advance
If you’re going to visit friends or family over the festive season, as many do, it’s always preferable to book your travel in advance. The sooner you can buy your tickets for a plane or train trip, the cheaper they are likely to be. It’s also a good idea to prepare for travel by car, as fuel costs can take you by surprise. Plan your routes carefully to avoid the worst of the holiday traffic and always have a plan B in case of bad weather.
If you’re worried about covering the cost of Christmas this year, why not visit us in-store to chat with one of our friendly team members? We can guide you through the range of financial solutions we offer, and can help you to work out the best course of action for your needs. Find your nearest H&T store with our store finder.