More than £800. That’s how much extra the average UK household spends in December if the Bank of England is to be believed.
And that figure doesn’t include the extra cash we spend in the run up to Christmas on events like Black Friday in November or present buying before December.
With a new baby on the way and maternity leave on the horizon I’m mindful of every penny we’re spending this Christmas, and I’m doing my best to keep costs down while still giving the kids a Christmas they’ll remember.
If you want to keep control of your bank account too but find costs can easily snowball here are 5 simple ways to avoid overspending at Christmas to help keep your finances (and mine!) in check.
5 simple ways to avoid overspending at Christmas
1. Set a realistic budget
The key to spending within your means is creating a realistic budget and sticking to it. Whether you’ve been saving up for Christmas all year or you need to make the last few pay days of the year stretch super far, the best way of working out how much you can afford to spend is by working out the amount of disposable cash you have. Start with your income and take away your definite outgoings, such as mortgage or rent, household bills and basic living expenses. This will give you the amount left over. From here, you can work out exactly how much you can realistically spend on presents, nights out, food, drink and anything else over the festive period.
2. Only buy what you need
Christmas might be the season of indulgence, but don’t get sucked in. With shop windows beautifully decorated with tempting offers and Christmas markets full of festive trinkets, it can be easy to impulse-buy things you don’t really need. Even buying one or two new decorations could tip you into the red during December. Try and focus on what you actually need, such as your essential food shop and presents for loved ones.
3. Create a list of gifts and stick to it
Create a list of items you are going to buy people in advance. (I’ve got an ongoing list on my phone so I can note down ideas when I think of them, which also means I’m shopping mindfully instead of buying gifts just for the sake of it – especially useful when it comes to the kids’ stocking fillers). Creating a list will not only make shopping much quicker and easier as you know exactly what you’re looking for, but it will also help you to stay on budget. If your original ideas are too pricey, switch them for more wallet friendly options by shopping around. And remember to take your list with you when you go Christmas shopping so you only buy what you’ve written down!
4. Consider alternative payment options
If you find that you don’t have enough disposable income for all the festivities, there may be other options that can give your finances a boost. For example, you could consider using a credit card on the proviso you pay the balance off in January. Bear in mind that if you do decide to use credit or finance agreements, it’s important that you’re able to pay the balance off in full before you’re charged interest and that the repayments won’t cause financial strain. (If you’ve got loyalty cards it’s also worth seeing how many points you’ve accrued that could be either converted into cash or used to pay for gifts – you’d be surprised!)
5. Remember the real meaning of Christmas
Whether you’re religious or not remember that a fun festive season is not about the amount of money you spend and how many presents you can buy. It’s about spending quality time with the people you love.
Do you have any top tips to avoid overspending at Christmas? I’d love to know what they are!
This is a collaborative post.