It’s that time of year when Christmas is on the horizon and everyone is starting to think about presents, holiday plans and arranging to meet up with family and friends.
Make sure that you’re tracking your spending to avoid going over budget and to spot opportunities to make savings
From office parties to family reunions, diaries tend to fill up quickly during the festive season. It’s also the time of year when many families experience the biggest financial strain, with the worry of making sure you have enough cash to cover all those essentials (and Christmas treats) that will need to be paid for.
To that end, here are a few tips for easing the financial strain this winter.
Work out your budget
Work out how much money you have set aside for Christmas as early as possible, and figure out exactly how much you can really afford to spend on all the different expenses that come at Christmas.
The gift buying budget is one of the most important ones to agree because it’s very easy to get carried away when you’re shopping for people you love.
You’ll also need some cash for the one off purchases like a turkey and a Christmas tree. If you’re going to have family round for the big day, speak to them about how you’re going to split the cost of all that delicious food and drink, so you know in advance how much you might be spending.
If you’re struggling to find room in your budget for all the expenses of Christmas, don’t be afraid to downsize the whole event.
Christmas is about being with people you love, not splashing cash unnecessarily. Consider making homemade gifts and decorations to save money. This is also a great way to spend time together as a family in the run up to Christmas.
Spread the costs
Ideally you should try to spread the Christmas costs over a couple of months beforehand so your bank account doesn’t take such a hit during the actual month of Christmas.
Look out for deals on things like wine and food that you can freeze ahead of time. Likewise with Christmas presents – keep your eyes peeled for offers or bargains for your loved ones and you might be able to shave some decent savings from your Christmas outgoings.
Get your finances in order
Make sure that you’re tracking your spending to avoid going over budget and to spot opportunities to make savings. Get a current account which lets you manage your money really easily. For example, Barclays’ current accounts have the option of mobile banking and an app called Barclays Pingit* which lets you transfer money between accounts quickly and seamlessly.
You should measure up your monthly spending against the Christmas budget throughout the lead up to the festivities to make sure you are sticking to your plan. Keeping a close eye on finances around this time may also help you to identify other areas where you could be saving money; helping you to keep your spending under control during Christmas.
Remember Christmas is meant to be fun
Christmas should be a time for getting excited, having fun as a family and enjoying each other’s company. Money troubles can cause a lot of stress so you are always going to have a better Christmas if you plan ahead to ensure that overspending doesn’t take away any of the Christmas magic from you and your family.
If you want some more ideas, check out this article with 50 tips for saving money at Christmas.
*T&C’s apply, You must be 16 years or above and have both a UK current account and mobile number to send or receive money