According to Deloitte the average British consumer (we are talking one person here) intends to spend £567 this Christmas season. This is 1% more than they spent last year, and the largest amount of all the European countries. This means that Christmas 2018 will be the most expensive yet.
If you’re panicking about the best way to manage the upcoming money vacuum that is the Christmas Holiday, and you think you’ve left it too late, then fear not! Start planning today and this three-week plan will help you pull back control and save more money than you were expecting.
1. Set your budget
There’s no time like the present. Figure out now exactly how much money you have to spend and exactly what you need to spend it on. Once you know this figure you will be able to make rational decisions about presents, food, and everything else you need to spend money on this season. Going into battle with a clear number in your head will help you when it comes to making decisions at crunch time.
2. Plan your events
Don’t be caught out by last minute events and the costs that they incur. Talk to the people you know and decide your pre-Christmas and seasonal party plans plans this week. If anything last minute comes up then be firm in your refusal and stick to what you have already planned and budgeted for.
3. Manage your gift list
This also means making your budget clear to others. Minimalism is key. Keep your list to fewer than five people if possible, and let each person know the price limit you can afford. This avoids embarrassing Christmas mornings where you exchange a bar of soap for a new watch.
Furthermore, by setting a clear gift limit you take the financial pressure off both yourself and your friends and family. You free each other from a costly obligation that, far from being a spontaneous show of affection, has become an expensive financial burden. When you consider that the average UK consumer is due to spend £299 on Christmas gifts this year, you will be saving yourself potentially hundreds of pounds.
1. Organise your meal plans
Plan exactly what you will be cooking for the next two weeks. The advantages of this are threefold. Firstly, by shopping earlier you are more likely to find what you are looking for on the shelf. If you leave it to the 23rd December – the busiest trading day of the year – you risk being without key Christmas dinner staples as everything is out of stock.
Secondly, by planning your meals in advance you are less likely to waste food, or to indulge in whimsical shopping splurges because you don’t know what you feel like cooking. Having a plan keeps you to budget.
Finally, it allows you to spread the cost of your Christmas dinner. If you can buy dried or tinned goods earlier, then come your December paycheque you only need to think about buying the fresh produce and – of course – the turkey.
2. Buy your presents
Use this week to do your Christmas shopping. If you decide to shop online make sure you leave enough time for Christmas delivery and avoid expensive ‘fast shipping’ panic options. If you are worried about spending too much money then set up a customised savings step in order to save money every time you spend on gifts, or round up the pennies each time you buy something in store. The money you save now will help get you through the misery that is January.
1. Relax and spend time (not money)
The most important part of Christmas is spending quality time with the people you love. This costs absolutely nothing; so instead of worrying about what you’ve bought them, instead just spend time talking, playing games, and enjoying the festive time of year.
If you've followed your plan and your budget you should hopefully now be in a position where your holiday is fully under control and you can let yourself relax.