The festive season is a wonderful time of year, but it can also become very expensive, very quickly. Making plans to manage the cost of the silly season can mean sailing into the New Year with your finances in great shape.
Follow a festive budget
A smart starting point is to draw up a budget. List everything you'll need, itemising purchases under headings like ‘gifts', ‘entertainment' and ‘decorations' so nothing is overlooked.
Add up your budget. If the final figure is a little over the top, look at areas where you can cut back.
Giving is good – within reason
It's not essential to buy gifts for everyone you know. But if you do want to give someone a little something, low cost gifts like a jar of home-baked cookies are a budget-friendly and a stylish way to show them you care.
When it comes to family gatherings, rather than buying separate gifts for each family member, consider organising a “Secret Santa”. Each person is randomly assigned just one relative to buy a gift for – which makes this a fun, and fiscally-friendly, option.
Spread the cost
People like to contribute to the festive feast so when someone asks “What can I bring?”, why not take them up on it? It's an opportunity for people to show off their favourite Christmas recipe and it lightens the workload and cost for the host. Alternatively, try suggesting that everyone brings something and allocate dishes out – one family could bring entrée, another could bring salads.
Most people feel better when they know they are helping out.
Plan how you'll pay for it all
Next, think about how you'll manage the costs of Christmas. One handy approach is to stagger festive season purchases so you're buying a little each week, leaving perishables until closer to the big day.
Remember, there's still time to use lay-by. Sure, it can seem old-fashioned, but lay-by is great way to pay for purchases at your own pace without racking up interest charges. (It's also handy to keep presents hidden from children!)
Managing card debt over Christmas
When it comes to using your credit card, be mindful of only putting those festive purchases on the plastic that you can realistically pay off in the interest-free period. If you're struggling with card debt, take a look at some of our top tips to clear card debt in time for the New Year.