12 Ways to Budget Before Christmas
Do you dread the expenses of Christmas? The shops are like a temptation magnet. Everywhere you look, Christmas stuff is shouting, “Buy me! Come on… spend your money. You know you need me.” It’s crazy, isn’t it? The best way to deal with the spending temptation is to budget.
Before I share my tips, I’ll tell you a story…
Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in a small town in Jamaica. She shared a house with her grandmother, two sisters and two cousins. They didn’t have much money. In fact, they were so poor that their grandmother couldn’t even afford to buy toys for them. But they didn’t mind. They played with each other; climbed trees for fun; made their own swings from ropes and played games in the large open fields. The children laughed a lot because they were happy.
Christmas was an exciting time for the little girl. She walked to town with her family and watched the Jonkanoo Christmas processions. People dressed in vivid colours and danced to lively reggae music on the main roads. Her face lit up as she watched the amazing parade of activities. Afterwards, the families sat down to delicious Christmas dinner. It was a delightful feast of rice and gungo peas, curried goat, chicken and more. They also enjoyed a lovely treat of sorrel (a traditional Caribbean Christmas drink) and tasty rum soaked fruit cake.
There were no Christmas trees. No presents under a Christmas tree. No presents from Santa Claus. No Christmas lights. And no Christmas stocking for that little girl. But there were lots of love and heaps of happiness. Her life was wonderful because she was with people who adored her. It didn’t matter that her gran didn’t have much money. It didn’t matter that Christmas wasn’t a massive event in their home. What mattered was her quality of life. And it was a great life, despite the shortage of trimmings. That little girl was me.
I had the best life growing up in Jamaica. Christmas isn’t about spending money you haven’t got. Or running up your credit card bill. It’s about showing love, which should be done every day of the year.
So, let’s get on with looking at 12 ways to budget before Christmas:
How much can you spend without getting into debt? Be honest with yourself. Set a budget. Make it affordable and stick to it. Only spend what you’ve allocated for Christmas presents, food, drinks, etc.
2. Make a Christmas shopping list
Lists are great for stopping you from overspending in the shops. Think about what you need to buy and which shops to go to. Make your list. Go to the shops where you’ll get what’s on your list. Because, if you go shopping without knowing what you want, you’ll probably spend too much.
3. Ditch the plastic
Cash is king. Credit cards are like a debt trap. It’s easy to run up a big bill because you do not physically see how much you’re spending. When you use cash, you can only spend what’s in your purse. When the money is finished, you have to stop buying. That will prevent you from starting 2015 with a massive credit card debt.
4. Do a price comparison
Compare prices online before you do your Christmas shopping. By committing to just 15 minutes or more looking at different shops online, you’ll see how much money you could save.
5. Find the sales
A lot of shops start their sales before Christmas. Take a walk down your local high street. You’re bound to see well-known stores displaying sale signs. But for the sake of convenience, check out Time Out online for a guide to the latest sales in London, and the best places to hunt out bargains.
6. Be creative and make your own Christmas cards
This is a fantastic way to save money and get personal. Make your own Christmas cards for family and friends. I wrote a post about how to make customised Christmas cards. Here is the link: Ideas for Custom Made Christmas cards. Plus, there are lots of ideas online. Designing and making your own cards is fun and you can get your children involved. However, if you want to focus on getting the little ones involved with Christmas, read this blog post I wrote for Ivy League Nursery. It’s packed with lots of great ideas. Check it out here: Fun Things to Do With Your Child This Christmas.
7. Consider doing a Secret Santa
I was introduced to Secret Santa at a school I worked for a few years ago. This will save you lots of money, especially if you have a big family. Get together with family or friends and decide how much to spend on Christmas presents. Write the names of all the people involved and put them in a box. Shuffle the box and each person draws a name. They keep that person’s name a secret. Their job is to buy a present for the person within the agreed budget.
On Christmas day they get their beautifully wrapped present, but they won’t know who bought it. That’s the secret part. The bonus is, everyone will get one present from one person, instead of one person buying presents for lots of people.
8. Use everyday items for stocking fillers
For close family members and children, fill up their Christmas stockings with things they need. For example, buy items such as stationary, socks, underwear, shampoo, pyjamas, soap, etc. And to make it more interesting, include their favourite chocolate bars, earrings, ring or an item of surprise.
9. Can anyone wait till boxing day for their Christmas present?
This is a massive money-saving tip if you’re planning on buying big items like games console, TV or a computer. Give the person a small present to open on Christmas day, and a lovely gift wrapped IOU. Go out early to beat the rush, and buy their main present in the Boxing day sales.
10. Send e-cards to save on postage and keep in touch
Sending e-cards is wonderful for keeping in touch and sharing the festive goodwill over Christmas. Take some time to choose the right e-card and send it to a loved one. It works out much cheaper (or free), and it’s your way of letting them know you’re thinking of them.
I get an e-card every year from a friend I met when my daughter was at school. She lives on the other side of the country, but came to London to visit her grandson. Still, we haven’t seen each other for years as she’s elderly and not in good health. It’s easier for us exchanging e-cards over Christmas.
11. Shop around for Christmas food
Buying Christmas food can work out quite expensive, especially if have a big family. You’ll save money by comparing prices and maybe going to different supermarkets for festive items. These are two options: MySupermarket will help you find the best deals and compare prices across a range of well-known supermarkets. If you’ve got an Android phone, it makes sense to download the mySupermarket app. It’s convenient to use and you’ll be able to compare prices and shop while you’re out and about.
12. Make use of your loyalty points
I’ve got a Nectar card and save points for spending over Christmas. It’s an ideal time to use loyalty points you’ve collected over the year to splash out on Christmas food, or presents. Did you know that the points are worth more if you use them online? Check online to find out the best places to spend and save.
If you plan wisely and budget before Christmas, you’ll have fun spending, and less stress. There’s only 27 days before Christmas. So, get out there and do what you need to, starting from today. Don’t leave it till the last minute.
Can you add any more tips to the budgeting list? Please share your thoughts and advice in the comment. Thank you.