Christmas is a wonderful time of year for so many, but for others, it can cause a lot of worries, anxieties and financial pressures. Over the years, Christmas has become more commercialised with the pressure to spend and increased emotional spending can make Christmas really stressful.
It is important to remember that Christmas is not about presents; it is about spending quality time with loved ones and being present. The lead up to Christmas can be so busy, so taking the time during the holiday to rest is really important.
Given the credit card debt in our society, it is important that you look at your budget this Christmas in order to avoid any unnecessary stress. You shouldn’t be putting yourself in debt to show people that you love them with gifts. These are some of the best ways to stay under budget this Christmas:
1. Make a list of people you need to buy for
Making a list of everyone you need to buy for this year gives you a starting point and to do the dreaded thing and forget anyone! Once you have bought gifts and a card for each person, you can check them off your list. This will help you to know on the build up to Christmas how much you have left to buy.
2. Set a budget for Christmas gifts that you can afford
Setting yourself a budget for each person that you are buying for will mean that you are aware of how much you need to save and will be paying out in total. You need to make sure the budget you have set is attainable. By budgeting your Christmas, you should come out the other side of Christmas debt free.
If you are unsure about how to set a Christmas budget, here are some tips to help you:
- Write down your monthly income
- Write down your expenses
- Take your expenses away from your monthly income
- Divide what’s left between the number of people that you need to buy for
- Don’t but all your presents in one month – spread the cost!
Considering this equation, will still enable you to have some spare income and will stop you from spending too much or too little on each person.
Photo by Prchi Palwe on Unsplash
3. Ask your loved ones for a wish list
A more sustainable way of purchasing Christmas gifts is to ask your loved ones to create a wish list. The wish list will mean that you are buying gifts you know the person wants or needs. Did you know that it is estimated that over 21 million people receive at least one unwanted gift at Christmas. When you are trying to keep to a budget, you want to buy a gift that is worth the money for each loved one. You don’t need to buy the ‘top up’ gifts.
4. Draw out your Christmas budget in cash
This is a simple, but really effective way to stick to your budget at Christmas. You can either place the cash in an envelope, or put the money onto a pre-paid card. This simple strategy means that you can easily track your money and are aware of how much you have left to spend.
5. Ignore the sales and stick to your shopping list
Leading up to and during Christmas, shops and online stores participate in Back Friday and other sales They try to entice you to buy more than you actually need for Christmas gifts or for food. Try not to deviate from your list as it can lead to overspending and that is where you ca get into money difficulties.
6. Create a list of additional costs
When you are planning a budget for your Christmas holidays, you will want to include all additional costs. Additional costs can include: cards, wrapping paper, tags, decorations and food, that you will need to account for. It is important to remember that all the small additional costs stack up.
7. No emotional spending
Emotional spending is when you buy something you may not need, but you are sparked by emotion and mostly ‘in the moment’ purchases. It can be so easy to pick up extra gifts you see in the shop for your loved ones because you think they will love them and make them smile. As much as this is a lovely gesture, it can quickly lead to you overspending.
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8. Try a secret Santa system
When you sit down and write all the people you are gifting to with family, friends and work colleagues, it all adds up…quickly! Participating in a Secret Santa with family or friends helps to keep costs down. For those who don’t know, a Secret Santa is where you put everyone’s names into a bowl and you each pick out a person. You set a spending limit and it makes it more fun to guess who gave you your gift!
My family and I have done this Secret Santa for a few years before, excluding the youngest family members of course – we buy their presents separately. All us adults find that there aren’t lots of things that we want, so we all decided that this would be a fun way to do Christmas and keep the costs down. It’s always fun guessing back and forth even in the lead up to Christmas. It was great during the covid years and after covid as Christmas would have been a struggle. But we are back to buying for everyone this year.
9. Repurpose a gift
Have you been given a gift that you haven’t used? Did you put it to one side, or in a cupboard somewhere and forgotten about it? Christmas is the perfect time to repurpose that gift. This is a great way to be more sustainable this Christmas. Just make sure that you don’t gift it to the person who originally gifted it to you!
10. Give gift cards
Gift cards, although often seen as the lazy choice of present, can often be the best way to stay within your budget. Gift cards are a great way to gift because your loved ones can use them to purchase what they would like. The range of gift cards that are available is huge and you can get them for clothing, restaurants, gaming, technology, cinema tickets and even experience days!
Other ways you can keep to a budget this Christmas:
- Budget for impulse buys
- Price match online for gift ideas
- Make handmade cards, gifts or tags
- Look out for discount codes or free deliveries
- Or even decide as family and friends that you are not going to purchase gifts – may sound drastic, but it is an option This holiday is about love and you do not need to buy gifts to show someone you love them
There are so many positive benefits to sticking to a Christmas budget. You should bear in mind that these suggestions are to help you come out of Christmas debt free.
Do you set a budget for Christmas? How do you stick to your budget? I’d love to hear in the comments.