Just a few weeks to go before Christmas, are you ready? As the countdown is getting real, you want to plan as much as possible for the holidays, to avoid unnecessary last minute stress. It is the season to be happy and enjoy time with your loved ones, not to run around like crazy because you forgot to buy a turkey.
Online shopping can be your friend these days, with many companies guaranteeing a delivery before Christmas. By shopping online, you will not only save time, but also be less tempted to spend on things outside of your Christmas list.
How much are you willing to spend on the whole event?
You should define your Christmas budget beforehand to make sure you don’t go overboard. That should then be split between travelling costs to visit family, gifts, tree, decorations, food, and any other expenses such as chocolates for teachers or wrapping paper. It really adds up!
One way to ease the weight of Christmas is to talk to your family and drastically reduce gift giving. The goal is to be together and have a good time, not stress over debt that will take months to pay off. You can also give a voucher on Christmas for say a new laptop, then wait for the January sales to buy it for your teenager.
You can prepare for Christmas as early as next January, by buying decorations and other paraphernalia at a steep discount. Setting up a savings account for next Christmas is also a great idea. Setting aside just £20 a week will add up to £1,000 fifty weeks later. However, if you are going to charge this Christmas on your credit card, your priority should be getting rid of your balance before you consider saving for next year. Try to get a 0% balance credit card and make payments as often as you possibly can.
Picking up an extra shift at work can help make a little more money before Christmas. Bank holidays are often paid double if you don’t mind the sacrifice.
Be in with the chance of winning £250 with icount!
If you need some extra help with your Christmas budget, icount has a competition that offers up the chance of winning £250! It is going to run from the 1st December until the 31st and the winner will be announced on the 2nd January.
It’s so quick and easy to enter – simply head to icount’s competition and take a look at the many presents under their tree. If you can guess the total cost of them all correctly, you could be the lucky winner of £250 loaded onto an icount prepaid Mastercard. What’s more, you’re free to spend your winnings however you see fit! Good luck!
Do you even have a Christmas plan? If you don’t, no need to panic, but with Christmas just a few weeks away, it is time to do so! I find that if I don’t budget for things, it is really easy to go overboard, and while £5 here and £5 there is not really a big deal, small sums add up to the point where you receive your credit card statement and are shocked at all you’ve spent over the holidays.
One thing that is really hard to do is to keep paying for something after the event has passed, like paying interest on your credit card way into the spring because you couldn’t afford Christmas. So first, let’s make a plan. How much can you realistically afford to spend on Christmas? Will you get a Christmas bonus at work? Will you start budgeting now so you don’t have to charge your card?
Christmas is not just about gifts. There is the tree, the decorations, the food, the car costs to go around and see your family… let’s make sure all that fits in your budget. Don’t be afraid to talk to your family about having a low key Christmas. It’s just one day of the year and it’s not worth getting into debt to make it amazing. As a matter of fact, small things like sitting together by the fire telling stories, or playing a game outside are often what you remember from Christmas, not what you ate or the gifts you received.
You can always have your big Christmas next year. If you start planning for that at the beginning of the year, it will be amazing. Save just £25 a week for 48 weeks and you’ll have £1,200 four weeks before Christmas! You can also shop in January for Christmas decorations, wrapping paper and other Christmas themed things like paper towels or gold sprays for a fraction of the cost.
As far as this Christmas is concerned, one good way to keep your budget in check is to go all cash. Withdraw whatever sum you want to spend on Christmas, put it in a special envelope, and once it is empty, that’s it! No more Christmas spending. Start with the essentials, like food and gifts for the kids, then work your way down your list of priorities. Parting with cash is psychologically much harder than swiping your card.
You can also agree with your spouse to gift each other things that will be useful in the new year, such as items of clothing or appliances. I didn’t really like that time I got a backpack from my boyfriend, as I was expecting some jewellery or something romantic, but I ended up using it most days for years, thinking about him when I did.
It all boils down to making Christmas a nice family event. Remember, it’s just one day, so make sure you’re not worse off in 2018 because of it…
Check out this infographic from Choose Wisely for more Christmas tips!