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Ah, Christmas. That merry time of year where we panic buy, eat too much food and spend too much money.
Christmas is a time of year that often sees us blowing the budget, only to regret it come January. However, there’s no need to get into debt over Christmas, after all, that’s not what it’s all about right? There’s no festive cheer in paying off credit card debt.
Before anything else take a step back and think about what Christmas means to you and the things you consider important. I’d take a guess and bet that fancy presents and expensive aperitifs don’t make it onto that list!
Here are some ideas for how to enjoy Christmas on a tight budget.
Christmas on a budget: Simple money saving tips
Check what you can afford
Always check your budget first, before spending. If you don’t have a budget sorted, now is as good a time as any to get one drawn up! Don’t forget to include all areas you’re planing to spend on, such as food, gifts, activities, parties, party wear and anything else you anticipate being an expense.
Having your budget laid out will give you a better idea of what’s affordable or not, and help to prioritise spending.
Save Money On Food
Choose brands wisely
If you’ve read some of my other posts you’ll have heard me talk about downshifting brands when grocery shopping. Often (not always) lower cost brands will taste just as good as their more expensive counterparts, so don’t be a brand snob at Christmas .
Don’t over buy
How many of us go overboard on the food shopping just because it’s Christmas? Then end up eating cold meat sandwiches for weeks and have a cupboard full of chocolates we don’t really need?
Think about how much you really need and try to hold back the unwarranted fear of ‘not having enough’. Only buy as much as you think you’ll honestly use.
Shop the deals
If you see something non perishable you know you’ll be wanting to buy at Christmas but you’re seeing it on offer in October, snap it up now and put it away. Some people like to have what they call a ‘Christmas cupboard’ which they fill up whenever they spot a bargain.
Is turkey a deal breaker?
Consider whether you really need a turkey for your Christmas dinner especially if you’re feeding a smaller group, a chicken or other meat might work out much cheaper.
Bring and share
If you are hosting for Christmas, why not ask people to bring a contribution? For example someone could bring a dessert, another a drink and so on. It spreads the costs and puts less pressure on the host.
Save on Christmas Presents
Agree no gifts
Presents can be a huge source of stress, with an ever extending list of people we *need* to exchange gifts with. Consider agreeing with friends/family/colleagues to simply not buy each other presents this year.
You could also consider giving handmade gifts. These often cost less than buying new and people love to receive gifts that are more thoughtful and take more effort. I love these gift in a jar ideas (second item in the video below!)
Try a secret Santa
This is something that we do in our family. We do give gifts to the children but for adults we set a small budget and organise a secret Santa for the adults, meaning we spend less money and are also under less pressure to go out and buy a bunch of gifts.
Give essential gifts
For children especially, opening the gift is 99% of the fun, so when budgets are tight, giving essentials as gifts can be a good way to save money. Wrapping up things you’d have needed to buy anyway such as new clothes, nightwear, shoes or socks can be a good way to give kids gifts without blowing the budget on expensive toys.
Hand deliver cards
Try and hand deliver your Christmas cards (or simply don’t send any!) to avoid expensive postage costs.
Save on Shopping
For those Christmas presents you are going to buy and the shopping you will do, try and save as much money as possible with these tips:
Find the best price
If you’ve decided on a specific item to buy, make sure you’re getting it at the best price possible, rather than just buying it in the first store you visit.
Use deals and discounts
Try and find a deal or discount if possible. You can try using tools such as the honey browser extension, which automatically searches the web for any current discount codes available.
Shop via cashback sites
Don’t forget to get cashback! Shopping through a cash back sites allows you get a percentage of your money back on purchases with hundreds of retailers.
If you haven’t already joined, it’s so worth it for all your shopping throughout the year, not just Christmas. I’ve earned hundreds in cash back from my online shopping. The biggest cashback sites include Quidco, Topcashback, Kidstart and Rakuten.
Try shopping in charity shops
Charity shops are a great way to find cheaper gifts. Things like children’s toys, games and puzzles can often be picked up in great condition for low prices.
Save on Christmas Activities
There are loads of Christmas activities that come with a hiked up seasonal price tag, but you don’t have to spend masses to enjoy some Christmas cheer! Here are a few ideas for frugal festive fun.
- Cozy Christmas films – cuddle up with a warm blanket and enjoy some family time with a festive film.
- Make your own Christmas decorations – this gives you a fun family activity and saves money on expensive tree decs.
- Christmas lights spotting – Take a walk around your neighbourhood to enjoy some of the Christmas lights in your area.
- Get baking – make your own mince pies and gingerbread – not only is this cheaper than buying store bought, your house will smell amazing
- Play board games – enjoy some family time with some good old fashioned board game fun.
- Carols and Christingles – Go to a carol concert or Chirstingle service: kids will love decorating the oranges and there’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than carols and candlelight!
Finally, Start Preparing for Next Christmas in the New Year
It feels wrong to be thinking about next Christmas when it’s only just over, but this is the time when the best bargains are to be had! Things like wrapping paper, cards and Christmas decorations are often significantly reduced in January, so getting stocked up early can be a real money saver. You can also get organised by including saving for Christmas as part of your monthly budget.
You might also like:
- 9 super easy budgeting tips >>
- How to save money on your Christmas shopping >>
- 13 ways to slash your grocery spend >>