With the cost of living crisis set to worsen as we head into the colder months and energy bills rise, it can be tempting to stick your head in the sand and get worry about Christmas costs later.
In fact, planning now how you’ll fund parties, gifts, and groceries makes a lot more sense—helping you save money and reduce the stress of overspending.
We asked finance experts for their top tips on how to budget and find the best deals ahead of the holiday season…
1. Set a budget
The first step to making sure you stay within your means this Christmas is to create a budget and stick to it.
“Whether you prefer to jot down the numbers on paper or create an online spreadsheet, write down all the costs you’ll need to cover during the holiday season, such as food, gifts, decorations and travel,” says Brean Horne. , personal finance. expert on the comparison site NerdWallet (nerdwallet.com). “Don’t forget to include any events or outings you might attend, such as Christmas parties, ice skating, or even visiting a Christmas market.”
After each purchase or event, be sure to indicate how much it cost.
“A lot of people get caught up in the buzz of the festive season and forget to check their budget,” says Salman Haqqi, personal finance editor at Money.co.uk. “In the future, you’d be much happier if you tracked your spending as you go, so you didn’t end up overspending and ruining this month’s budget and the next month.”
2. Prioritize your expenses
It’s not always easy to estimate exactly how much each gift or experience will cost in advance, but it can help prioritize your budget items into essentials and non-essentials.
“For example, groceries are a high priority, while ice skating might be lower on the list,” says Horne. “Wherever possible, try to find cheaper alternatives or reduce your non-essential costs. For example, hosting a dinner party instead of going out for a meal, or finding free party events.
3. Take advantage of fall offers
If you wait until December to start shopping, you might miss some of the biggest discounts retailers offer all year. (Don’t be tempted to blow the budget just because something is on sale!)
“Black Friday (November 25) and Cyber Monday (November 28) are sales periods where you can take advantage of cheaper prices for your Christmas shopping,” says Haqqi, with some deals continuing throughout. of the weekend.
Horne adds, “Setting up price alerts online can help you track the cost of your freebies and purchase them when they reach your ideal price. Some retailers like ASOS periodically offer flash sales, during which you can also buy most items at a reduced price.
4. Christmas Cashback
Cashback sites can be a great way to get extra savings on big brand freebies. “The site will be paid to send traffic to the store and you will get some of it back, [potentially] A lot of people save €100 on their Christmas shopping bill,” says Haqqi. “It’s a good idea to look for the cheapest deal and then check that cashback is available. You can also use a cashback credit card, which allows you to earn cashback on your purchases.
5. Set a gift limit
With so many people feeling financial hardship, there’s no better time to chat with your friends and family about cutting back on unnecessary gifts.
“Why not try a Secret Santa family this year?” Haqqi said. “Just put all the names in a hat and have everyone choose one person to buy for. Family members could even write down their three favorite gifts, so no one is disappointed.
Horne suggests setting a spending limit on gifts: “It’s important to remember that gift-giving isn’t a numbers game, so being selective about what you buy ensures you’re giving someone one what he really wants and can also help you cut costs.”
6. Use Promo Codes
Before buying anything, check to see if there are any discount codes available for that brand or retailer.
“Websites such as SuperSavvyMe (supersavvyme.co.uk) offer a wide range of discount codes,” says Horne. “It’s also worth looking for discounts in supermarket magazines, promotional packages and other online discount sites to help you save money.”