Wednesday, December 9th, 2015
Christmas can be a very difficult and expensive time of the year. However, planning and budgeting can relieve the stress. Here are some ideas that can help you along the way.
Decide your budget and stick to it
It can be really difficult to budget over the holiday period. As well as extra expenses, benefits and wages may be paid early because of bank holidays. This can leave a long gap after Christmas between payments and can disrupt your finances in January.
Make a realistic list of all your expenses and how much you can afford? is there anything you can cut down on or remove from your list? Planning ahead may help you feel in control and reduce stress. A free online budget planner is available at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.
If you can?t afford to buy something on your child?s wish list, talk to them about it. Give proper reasons so they understand your explanation. ?Because I say so? is unlikely to satisfy them. Explain why a gift is not suitable or too expensive. With older children an item may mean more to them because it fits in with their friends or image. Consider making a deal where you contribute to the cost of a present, with your child taking responsibility for saving the rest, from a part-time job or relatives who are willing to contribute.
Cut the cost of dinner
Christmas dinner can turn into an expensive meal, so it?s worth thinking about what your family will actually eat, and what you actually like, so you don?t buy too much. If you decide you want to go for traditional poultry, try boiling down the leftovers and throwing in a few vegetables for a tasty Boxing Day soup.
None of us actually like turkey all that much so we?ve designed our own Christmas dinner full of our favourite foods ? and it doesn?t involve the expensive bird and all the trimmings you?re supposed to have.
Avoid using credit
Most people are feeling the pinch so don?t put pressure on yourself to spend what you can?t afford. Try to avoid using credit or borrowing money to pay for things. Don?t be tempted to sign up for store cards if you are out shopping for gifts, as they can charge even higher rates of interest than credit cards. Avoid payday lenders as the rates of interest are crippling.
For an impartial, straightforward guide to borrowing money, contact the Money Advice Service online or call 0300 500 5000.
Be savvy about presents
You shouldn?t feel like you have to buy presents for everyone you know, so perhaps consider not giving gifts ? particularly if you can agree in advance with friends and family that presents aren?t necessary. Spending time together is often more valuable to those closest to us anyway. If possible, agree tactics with your child?s other parent or family members about presents. You may want to agree that you both spend roughly the same amount on presents for your children, even if one of you could afford more. Please see our previous blog regarding bargain Christmas gifts for the whole family!