Trying not to overspend during the festive season can be very tricky. Take a look at our spending ‘dos and don’ts’ to help you stick to a budget
With big shopping events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas, the temptation to spend over the festive season can be too strong to resist. But, for many, this can lead to money struggles and mounting debt. According to National Debtline, more than one third of people in the UK paid for Christmas using overdrafts, credit cards and store cards in 2017, and millions of people started 2018 with a festive debt hangover.
So, how can you make sure you avoid overspending and start the New Year in good financial shape?
Don't forget to planWrite a list of who you’re buying for, work out how much you can afford to spend on each person and try and stick to it. Last-minute impulse buys are often the most expensive and least appreciated, so it pays to plan ahead.
Do your homeworkBe prepared for shopping events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and pre-Christmas sales, and don’t be lured by flashy deals that look better than they really are. Sellers have been known to artificially increase the price of products just before these online sales to make their discounts look more generous. If you want to buy particular items, research the best deals on price comparison websites so you can spot real bargains when the sales start.
Don't leave food until the last minuteWhen it comes to planning Christmas, you can save money if you buy some of the things you need ahead of time. Look out for special offers on non-perishable food items from November onwards, or earlier if the items will last. From chocolates and biscuits to pickles, chutneys and sauces – and even Christmas crackers – a lot of supermarkets run cut-price or buy-one-get-one-free offers that can help you keep costs down.
Do look out for vouchersSearch for discount or voucher codes online to find websites offering money-off vouchers for your favourite online stores. Alternatively, you could consider buying through a cash-back website that offers free registration. These websites pay you a percentage of the money you spend when you click through them to a participating retailer’s website.
Don't overload yourselfIf you have lots of people coming over for Christmas dinner, consider asking them to bring a course each, or a different contribution, to spread the cost and stress.
Do protect your purchasesUsing a credit or debit card to pay for your shopping can protect you if your purchases are faulty or fail to arrive. But try to clear the balance on your credit card as soon as possible to avoid incurring interest charges. Find out more about credit card and debit card protection at the Money Advice Service.
Don't buy for too many peopleWhen it comes to gift giving, Secret Santa – where you buy a present for just one person and your identity as gift giver is kept hidden – can save you a lot of money, especially if you’re part of a large extended family. Alternatively, you could agree a maximum amount that everyone spends on presents, buy presents just for children, or give ‘IOU cheques’ with promises of babysitting, dog walking, gardening or cooking, which are free for you to give but worth a fortune to the recipient.
Do consider cashHow often have you wished that someone had given you cash instead of buying a present you don’t want? There’s no shame in giving cash as a present, especially to children and young adults who are trying to save up for a big purchase, or even university.
Don't forget about next yearIf you’re able to, putting a bit of money aside each month could make meeting the cost of next Christmas a lot less painful.
Do remember what Christmas is aboutChristmas means spending time with the people you love. You don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive presents that’ll leave you worrying about money for the next 12 months.
More on getting started with money
Top 10: tips to manage your money
If you struggle to manage your money and have little saved, you're not alone
Saving enough for your pension?
We're all living longer and the cost of retirement is increasing. Here are some simple tips to help you save enough for your pension, and ensure you enjoy a decent retirement income
10 steps to building a financial plan
Having a financial plan in place early on can make it easier to manage your money further down the line
Five ways to save for your first house deposit
Saving for a deposit is one of the biggest obstacles in getting onto the property ladder, but being aware of the many options available may help you to reach the sum you need
The hidden costs of buying a house
Buying a new home can be more expensive than you think. Use our guide to discover all the things you’ll need to budget for
Easy steps to help you save for your future
Saving for the future can seem like a daunting task if you’re on a fixed budget or low income, but there are a number of simple steps you can take to help
Should you take your debt more seriously?
Borrowing to make purchases can leave you paying the price long after you’ve forgotten what you bought