When saving for your first home or getting into the habit of paying off your first mortgage, Christmas can put a real strain on your budget. Thankfully there are plenty of ways to keep your festive spending under control.
Work out your budget now
There are a number of Christmas expenses that can catch you off guard. In addition to gifts, costs to budget for include:
- Posting Christmas cards and gifts to friends and family
- Any travel you’ll be doing over the festive season
- Office secret santa
- Festive season catch-ups with friends and family
- Christmas decorations (if you’ve just moved into your home)
- Catering costs (if you are hosting Christmas Day or Christmas parties)
By allocating your Christmas budget now, you’ll know how much you can afford and where to rein in the spending. As your making your Christmas budget, consider other areas where you could cut back over the festive season in order to free up some extra money.
Now is also a good time to start considering how you can save money on your mortgage.
Entertain at home
Catching up with friends and family at restaurants, cafes and bars is one of the most expensive and unexpected costs of Christmas. If you are planning festive season get-togethers, consider hosting your guests at home. When your guests contribute a plate of food, it’s a cheap and easy way to see everyone. And if you’ve just purchased your first home, this is the perfect opportunity to start entertaining in your own place.
The same idea applies if you are hosting on Christmas Day. Simply ask your guests to contribute something to your lunch or dinner and not only will you save money, you’ll also be spending less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the company of your friends and family.
Make shopping lists
It’s easy to overspend when you head to the shops to do your Christmas shopping, either by treating yourself to something or buying more gifts than you intended. To avoid blowing the budget, make a list of gift ideas and how much you can afford to spend on each person. Take this list to the shops with you to ensure you don’t get caught up in the spending frenzy.
Look online for cheaper deals
The great thing about the internet is that you can research the best price on everything from gifts to decorations and the food and drinks you’ll be enjoying on Christmas Day. If you are planning to do your shopping online, start sooner rather than later so you have enough time for the goods to reach you via post and you won’t get caught out paying expensive express postage costs. Postal delays can be common during busy times, so give yourself a buffer of a few days.
Organise a family secret santa
The cost of gifts for family does add up very quickly and, unless you’re organised, shopping for all those presents is generally a stressful experience. To reduce the stress and burden on your budget, why not organise a secret santa with your family this year? With a secret santa, you simply buy one slightly more expensive gift for one person. Not only is it cheaper, but everyone also ends up with better quality gifts.
Don’t succumb to credit card temptation
Credit cards might be convenient when money is tight, but you’ll only be exacerbating your financial pain if you can’t pay off your bill before the interest period begins. To avoid the credit card hangover in the new year, start budgeting now to ensure you can stretch your budget across the season.
Cash in your reward points
When was the last time you checked your reward points from supermarkets and department stores? These types of customer loyalty programs will allow you to claim a range of rewards ranging from gift cards to present ideas. You can use these rewards as gifts or spending money for your Christmas expenses.
Pay attention to petrol prices
If you are travelling to visit friends and family over the Christmas season, it pays to keep an eye on the cheapest days to fill up the car. Petrol prices often spike as Christmas Day draws closer, so get in early to avoid paying more than you need to. By taking drinks and snacks in the car with you, you’ll also save on takeaway.
Sell your unwanted stuff
This is the perfect time of year to make some money from your unwanted things. If you have furniture, electronics, jewellery, clothing or other items around the house that you no longer need or use, consider selling them through sites like eBay or Gumtree.
Buying a home is an exciting time, but it does take some financial discipline around this time of year. Make it clear to friends and family that you are on a budget and you’ll feel less pressure to spend, spend, spend.