Friday, 7 December 2018

How to have a good Christmas on a budget

Why you can still have a good Christmas even if you're on a budget
Spending money at Christmas can easily spiral out of control and the last thing you want to be doing during the festive season is worrying about your finances so we've come up with some simple tips to still have an amazing Christmas but on a budget.

Shop at budget supermarkets
This is by far our favourite money saving tip and features in pretty much every money saving guide we write such as How to Live on a Strict Budget to Our Everyday Money Saving Basics. There's a reason we always recommend this, because it actually works and can save you so much money! We buy pretty much all of our Christmas groceries including alcohol from Aldi and the money we save compared to shopping at any other supermarket is unreal.

Use loyalty/savings cards
We have a Co-Op card that allows you to build up money on any own brand purchases so by the end of the year we've usually built up enough to treat ourselves. We usually pick something like a bottle of gin because that stuff is expensive and we've usually built up enough money on the card to not have to actually pay for any cash. Loyalty cards are well worth getting for a number of stores as they can save you money on things like food, drink and presents.

Don't stress about presents 
We mentioned this in our '5 things you're not obliged to do at Christmas' post but it's worth talking about again because you really don't have to spend lots of money to show family member you love them, no one wants you to spend money on them that you haven't got. Sometimes it's better to ask what people would like too as that why you know that you haven't wasted your money on something that won't get used.

Save and spend throughout the year
Don't wait until November/December to start buying everything from food to gifts. Spreading the cost throughout the year helps so much. Save as early as can in the year and start gift shopping early too. If you leave everything until the last minute you're going to be stuck paying for all Christmas related things as well as your usual bills all out of one or two wages which is not helpful at all.

Utilize sales 
For some serious forward thinking, head to the sales and stock up on things like cards, gift wrap and tags. This way it's a small cost that you don't have to worry about next year. I bought loads of wrapping paper and tags in the sales two years ago, I spent less then £5 and two years on we still have loads left, we might get another one or two Christmases out of the paper as well!

Staying in vs going out
Going out for a family meal at Christmas can get expensive, I'm not talking going out for Christmas Day dinner, I'm just talking a little family get together. This is why we prefer to stay in and host our own little party. We stock up on party food which can be picked up super cheap from Aldi, Lidl and Iceland, I usually make my own deserts, we get silly little things like Christmas photo booth packs and blast out the Christmas music. It's so much fun and way cheaper than going out.

Think about the bills
OK, I'm not here to suck the fun out of Christmas but this is an important point to make. Gas and electricity bills naturally increase in the colder months, add to that the fact that you're home more over the Christmas period so the heating is on, the tree lights are on and the TV is playing another Christmas movie and you might be surprised with your bill. Now I am not for one second saying you need to sit in a freezing house with no fairy lights and no TV on, you just need to be smart about it. When it comes to heating your home, having your central heating on a timer is the most economical, purse friendly thing to do. When we first moved in together we fell into the trap of thinking we should set the heating temperature quite low before it would automatically come on, this is a bad idea as the colder your house is, the longer your heating has to be on to warm it up to the temperature you set. When it comes to electricity, it's just a case of being a little more mindful and using your common sense, turn the lights off in rooms you aren't using etc. For more tips on saving money on bills check out my 'How switching your bills can save you money' post

Have fun
Lastly, and most importantly. Just enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. As long as your not spending beyond your means there's absolutely nothing to worry about. You can still have an absolutely amazing Christmas on a budget, don't fall into debt for the sake of one day!


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