For those of us who adore the Christmas holiday, spending over budget is commonplace. Whether it’s justifying purchasing expensive presents, preparing an overly extravagant festive feast, or going over the top with decorations, it’s easy to get carried away.
As magical as Christmas is, it’s important to keep an eye on our budget during preparations so we’re not faced with financial strain come January. This means finding a balance between the urge to spend frivolously and having a sensibly jolly time.
Here are some tips and how-tos for managing your spending in the lead up to Christmas:
Tip 1: Remember January is a long month
Resist the urge to spend all your earnings leading up to the big day itself on gifts, parties, and decorations. The sooner you spend, the sooner you’ll start to feel stress about living through a long January as the bills roll in.
- Give thought to emergencies that may pop up. Leave wiggle room in your budget on top of your usual expenses for any spur-of-the-moment costs that could come your way in January.
Tip 2: Set up bill reminders
If you have a consistent reminder of the bills you need to settle during the holiday and immediately after, you’ll be more inclined to manage your money effectively. As you cover all those holiday expenses, reminders will keep your usual financial responsibilities evident.
- Set up reminders or alarms on your phone that provide prompts days in advance of your bills’ due dates.
- Write due dates for your bills on your calendar and ensure it’s somewhere highly visible.
Tip 3: Use credit cards sensibly
It’s one thing using a credit card to take advantage of the consumer protection it offers, it’s another to spend on it with frivolous abandon. The best way to approach credit card spending is to remember the saying “If you can’t pay for it in cash, don’t buy it on credit.” As simple as it seems, it’s an effective way to ensure you avoid getting in over your head with credit card expenses during Christmas.
- If you plan to use your credit card, ensure your bank account has at least 90 percent of the purchase total in available cash.
- Aim to settle your credit card bill on time and in full.
Tip 4: Acknowledge regular financial priorities
If you meet your financial responsibilities the other eleven months of the year, you should be able to meet them in December.
- At the beginning of December, make a list of your financial responsibilities: rent, regular direct debits, and any other regular expenses.
- Prioritise these and set aside the amounts required, plus a little extra as a precaution.
- Whatever you’re left with is available for your Christmas spending!
Tip 5: Open a Christmas Savings Account
By opening a dedicated Christmas savings account at the start of the year, you can take a heap of financial stress off your shoulders when Christmas preparations begin.
- Open a savings account in the first week of January with £10, or whatever set amount you can afford. Each week thereafter, add that same sum to the account. If you save £10 per week, this will give you over £500 to spend freely come the next Christmas season.
All it takes is a little bit of discipline and a lot of focus on what’s important to you. Christmas overspending is not worth giving yourself stress the next year. Remember that there are many more holidays to come, so you may as well leave some frivolity for those!