27th September 2016 at 8:35am
It’s just under 100 days to go until the biggest, and often most expensive holiday of the year, so now is great time to start planning your finances so that you can relax and enjoy the festive season when it arrives and begin 2017 free from Christmas related money worries.
Here are some money tips to help you with Christmas planning.
The big ticket
It’s estimated that the average UK family spent more than £796* celebrating the festive season last year.
While you may still be holding onto dreams of an Indian Summer, Standard Life’s savings and investment expert Jamie Jenkins, recommends you start planning for Christmas now.
“Even though some of us will shiver at the thought of tinsel, turkey and gift tags right now, thinking about Christmas sooner rather than later could be the difference between starting the New Year with money in the bank, rather than with a build-up of debt. Planning now will allow you to maximise your savings as Christmas creeps closer and budget for what’s coming up. That way you can relax and enjoy the festivities when they come around, whilst reducing the stress and panic of trying to pay for everything with one month’s salary”.
Jamie Jenkins’ top 5 money tips to help with Christmas Planning:
Save £25 a week
With the average UK family now spending £796* on Christmas, putting a little aside each week between now and Christmas will help stagger the cost, and leave you with much more to spare for Christmas shopping.
Average UK family spend £796 on Christmas
Saving £55 a week starting now could just about cover the average cost. But even an extra £25 a week between now and Christmas will give your bank balance a £350 boost by the time Christmas Eve rolls around.
Physically putting this money aside into a different account can really help if you think you’re likely to spend it unknowingly when it is in your bank account.
E cards all the way
E cards are also a great way to save money on one of the most common expenses of the festive season. It might not seem like much at the time, but if you are the kind of person who buys Christmas cards for all your friends and family, it can quickly become an expensive way of sending people your festive wishes, particularly if you have lots of friends overseas.
Taking the process online also clearly creates less paper waste, but requires some prep in making sure you have everyone’s email addresses up to date. This is a very established market now so offers just as much variation (if not more) than traditional cards.
Online Christmas market now well established
Some sites also let you create your own designs for free, so you can be even more creative with your Christmas message. This said, chances are you’ll feel that some family members will really appreciate a printed card – but you know who they are, so you can focus on them.
Prepare your present list
One in three (30%) people in the UK claim they felt under pressure to spend more than they could afford last Christmas, resulting in many people beginning the year in a bad financial state.** Discussing the subject of presents sooner rather than later is a great way to avoid overspending as is setting a price limit for family presents.
Doing this is an effective way to help factor in present costs, making it easier to plan. Or have a think about homemade gift possibilities too.
Cook up some savings
The average cost of the 18 items that make up a traditional Christmas dinner rose to £138 last year, from £103 a decade ago according to a BBC report***, making it more important than ever to keep affordability front of mind when planning the big Christmas food shop.
Things to ask yourself are: can you bulk buy ahead of time and fill up your freezer? And does your local butcher or food shop offer a savings scheme to help you spread the cost through the year?
Average cost of 18 main items at Xmas now £138
Some supermarkets may have deals on various drinks that you won’t get the week before Christmas.
Get connected to bag a bargain
Pick up your phone or tablet and look to see if there are any offers that will help keep costs down by searching for discounts, deals or voucher codes.
Social media can come in handy too, if you log onto Twitter and search popular phrases and hashtags such as #deal or #offer, you will find many people sharing extra tips or links to discount vouchers and special offers.
It’s also worth following big brands and retailers as many regularly announce deals and offers available through their social channels. ASOS, M&S and Amazon are examples of brands that reward loyal customers with discount codes and early entry to sales.
And remember, Christmas is also a great time to plan how you might use up any loyalty points too. All these little savings can add up to one big saving, keeping costs down and maybe even helping you create a permanent savings pot for the longer term.
Have a good one
Follow these simple yet effective baubles of wisdom and you could be well on your way to cracking Christmas early.
The information in this blog or any response to comments should not be regarded as financial advice.