It's no secret that Christmas can be a costly time of year. There’s dinner to prepare, rooms to decorate, gifts to purchase, and guests to entertain. We all want our Christmas to be special but we don’t want to end up spending money we just don’t have. Nobody wants financial worries to dampen their enjoyment of Christmas or for their budget to be broken. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be like that.
For a lot of us the most important aspect of Christmas is gathering with family. Whether you’re making your way across the country or hosting for a large party, you could end up with unwanted additional costs, be it a plane ticket or another head to cater for.
If you’re travelling, consider booking your tickets in advance or looking for cheaper ways to travel such as by bus or car-sharing.
Another money-saving tip is to let out your home online while you are away, thus recouping the costs you’ve spent on travel. Plenty of people are looking for places to stay short-term over the Christmas season.
If you’re the one hosting this festive season, why not share the load? If you live near parents, siblings or friends, team up and share hosting duties. This will reduce the financial burden and prevent wastage.
You could divide up important tasks or have Christmas dinner ‘pot luck’ style. If you really need to squash the cost of Christmas this year, consider organising ‘Secret Santa’ for the grown-ups. That way everyone gets a gift and nobody has to buy a whole host of fancy and expensive presents.
It’s important to know how many people are coming to dinner so you can make an appropriate shopping list. Don’t ‘overbuy’.
Supermarkets will have special offers on Christmas food in the weeks leading up to Christmas so know what you need and buy things week-by-week so you don’t have to do a big, expensive shop in the few days before Christmas when things are more expensive.
While you may want to opt for high-quality brands it’s vital to remember that discount supermarkets offer food that can be just as delicious at a smaller price.
Finally, think outside the box. If you’re catering for a small group, it might not be essential to buy a large, pricey turkey. Consider cheaper alternatives such as a roast chicken or a shoulder of pork.
Sign up to a cashback site. By teaming up with leading companies and brands, these sites are able to give you money back on your purchases. The site will track what you’re buying and offer a cashback reward. That way, you’ll receive a chunk of the money back on your Christmas essentials.
‘Black Friday’ sales and deals have become popular in the last couple of years. Check both in-store and online to see what popular gift items you can get at a reduced price.
Check online classifieds for ‘Nearly New’ items. They say ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ for a reason – you might just find the perfect present in good condition, for a fraction of the price you’d pay for it brand new.
It’s good practice to collect vouchers whatever the season, but you’ll definitely notice their usefulness at Christmas. Before throwing them away, check old magazines, newspapers, brochures and advertisements for vouchers. There are also handy online resources you can check out such as websites dedicated to collecting the best voucher codes all in one place.
Keep an eye on any extra vouchers you receive as a result of reward card transactions. If you have a Nectar card or a card from Boots, Superdrug or Tesco you’ll probably receive additional vouchers whenever you put points on your card. Read the vouchers and save them – you could end up with a voucher you can combine with an in-store deal.
If you’re a crafty type, make your own presents and decorations. You’ll save money and you’ll be creating personal and thoughtful gifts.
Be sure to check in at charity shops and local reuse projects as lots of people donate decorations and Christmas supplies once Christmas is over. You never know what you might find.
Be on the lookout for free Christmas activities. Lots of Christmas markets and fairs are free to enter. There might even be free events such as fireworks displays. You’ll get into the Christmas spirit without spending a penny.
With Money Dashboard’s personal finance assistant you can now categorise your spending exactly how you like with your own custom categories and tags. Why not make a specific budget for 'Christmas' and track everything you spend so that no expenditure goes unnoticed? That way, when it all starts again next year you'll have a much better idea how much you'll need to set aside and Christmas financial woes will be a thing of the past!