How to enjoy Christmas without breaking the bank

Christmas is an expensive season, but you needn’t get in a financial pickle. Follow our top tips for frugal festivities to protect your wallet

By Sophie Cole

According to the Bank of England, the average family spends an additional £500 in December to keep up with the costs of Christmas. That gives an indication of the expense of the festive season – showing why some households feel the pinch as the jingle bells start to ring.

    Follow our savvy tips and you can enjoy plenty of Christmas cheer without the hefty price tag.  

But there’s no need to splurge a load of cash at Christmas. Follow our savvy tips and you can enjoy plenty of Christmas cheer without the hefty price tag.

1. Make a plan

Don’t even think about hitting the shops until you’ve had time to sit down and plan your Christmas giving.

Make a list of what you’ll buy everyone, thinking not only about what they’d like but how much you’re willing to spend per person.

Be sure to set yourself an overall budget and divide it between your loved ones however you see fit. If you don’t know the exact gift you’re going to buy for each person, try to jot down a detailed description (e.g. a floral bath bomb set for your niece; checked hankies for Dad) plus how much you want to spend on it.

And if you really want to resist the temptation to overspend, consider shopping online. That way, you won’t be drawn to unnecessary items that catch your eye in-store.

2. Agree a spending limit with friends and family

If you’ve got friends and family who splash some serious cash every Christmas, but you’re trying to keep costs down, it’s a recipe for awkwardness.

To make sure you’re not embarrassed by your modest gifts on the big day, it’s a smart idea to agree a spending limit for each person’s presents.

Suggest a budget of £10 per person, for example, and ask that everyone tries their best to stick to it.

Be upfront about your reasons for proposing the spending cap. Your loved ones won’t want you to feel embarrassed so will most likely stick to your agreed limit. Which means you won’t spend Christmas lunch feeling guilty about buying your Great Aunt Joan a pair of socks when she bought you a designer handbag.

3. Shop around for the best deals

Are kids crying out for this year’s latest toys and gadgets? Make sure you shop around for the best deal before whipping out your wallet.

Try to start shopping as early as possible to take advantage of deals that may crop up way before the Christmas rush. This will also help you avoid missing out on must-have items, or paying over the odds to buy them on eBay.

Even if you have left it to the last minute, a quick scan of a few retailers’ websites will show where you can get the cheapest price. A few choice clicks could save you a chunk of cash, especially on big-budget electrical items.

    ...a quick scan of a few retailers’ websites will show where you can get the cheapest price.  

4. Do it yourself for twice the fun and half the cost

If you really want to keep a lid on Christmas costs, make your festive season a DIY one.

This is particularly good if there are people in your life who already own everything they need. You’ll be able to gift them something that’s got sentimental value rather than monetary worth.

A personalised photo album or handmade cushion will always pull at the heartstrings of a much-loved friend or relative. And if you’re not the creative type, fill a box with random items (think facemasks, fluffy socks, sweets) and tie it with a pretty ribbon. That sort of thing always goes down a storm.

5. If you must borrow money, go to a reputable lender

Christmas really isn’t worth getting yourself into debt for, but if unexpected expenses mean you just don’t have the money this year, there are good and bad ways to borrow.

Never, ever, choose a payday loan or other kind of high-interest borrowing option, as costs will quickly spiral and become unaffordable. It’s also wise to be wary of retailers that offer a “spread the cost” option over a period of months or years, as this can increase the amount you pay overall by hundreds of pounds.

According to Moneysavingexpert.com, an interest-free credit card is one of the best options, because it allows you to clear the balance without paying additional fees. Make sure you double-check the 0% fee period on the card, though, as this varies between lenders.

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

Published: 21 November 2019

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