Christmas Spending Tips: How to Get to January Without Going Broke

It’s that time of year again: when shopping becomes a national obsession. From parties and presents to food and festive outfits, whether you shop online or hit the high streets, the Christmas period is a time for spending. Dependent on what source you listen to, the average UK family spends £650-1000 on Christmas.  So to minimise your spending, we've put together a few savvy tips to help you spend wisely.

1. Set a budget

Before you start your festive shopping spree set a budget, based on what you can afford rather than what you may want to spend.  Agree who you’re going to buy for, and how much you’ll spend on each family member and friend.  Remember, a truly thoughtful gift is better than an expensive one.  Food can be a hidden cost too, so plan your menu for meals and parties, and stick to it!

2. Make a list (and check it twice)

Research and think about what you want to buy in advance.  It will focus your mind when you hit the shops and are faced with an array of possibilities, and will help you avoid impulse purchases.  Trying to think when you’re faced with an array of fabulous gift ideas or mouth-watering Christmas delicacies is hard, so arm yourself with a list.  Sounds simple, but it really does help you stay in control of your festive spending and stay within your financial plan.

3. Start your shopping early

Not only will it give you more time to think about what you’re buying, but also where you can get it at the best price.  Use online sites to compare prices - it’s quick, easy and can save you a surprising amount of money - then buy through sites like Quidco and Top Cashback to get money back on your spending.

4. Buy a bit each week

For food shopping, we find it easiest to buy a few things every time we go to the supermarket, rather than buying everything in one go.  Just pop a few non-perishable items in your trolley each time, less than £10 worth, and then hide the goodies away when you get home.  Keep an eye out for deals on chocolates, wine, party snacks etc.

5. Get creative

Try making some or all of your Christmas cards, decorations and gifts.  Read our ideas for home-made Christmas gifts for inspiration.  You could also suggest alternative gifts such as days or nights out instead of exchanging gifts with friends or cousins.

6. Book your travel well in advance

Work out where you need to be and when as early as possible, then book hotels, flights and train tickets to get them as cheaply as possible.  Don't forget to use comparison services for the best pices, and to check how much cheaper fares might be a day earlier or later, or with a Railcard or similar.

7. Be shop savvy

Sign up to all your favourite stores loyalty schemes and mailing lists and be the first to hear fo special offers, discount codes etc.  You could also try the trick of loading items into your virtual shopping basket online and waiting a couple of days.  Many stores will send you an incentive to complete the purchase such as a discount code or other special offer.

8. Get a free lunch (well, nearly)

Sign up to popular restaurants' mailing lists and tell them when your birthday is to get discount vouchers, free bottles of Prosecco and more.  Many will also send out Christmas offers to encourage people to visit on quieter days such as Monday or Tuesday.  And many are still offering incentives for Christmas party bookers.  When you do eat out, swap Tesco or Nectar points for restaurant vouchers.

9. And a few more points...
  • Don't sign up to store credit, it's the easiest and most expensive way to get into debt
  • Refuse expensive warranties and shop at retailers like John Lewis who offer them for free
  • Check big retailer outlets such as Lakeland, Argos, Tesco and Currys on eBay for great bargains
  • Ask for gift receipts and pass them on to the recipient
  • Remember that Christmas is about spending time with the people you love, not spending money.

Whatever your plans for Christmas, and whether you relish the opportunity to indulge your loved ones (and yourself) or have to stick to a tight budget, a little bit of planning can go a long way to ensuring that you welcome the New Year without a financial hangover.

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