It might still be summer, and winter may feel many moons’s ahead, but did you know that it is just 16 weeks away, meaning that for the majority of people who are working across the UK, that equates to just three or four paydays left in total? It can often be the case that we put off putting away the pennies for the Christmas period thinking that it is far too early to start saving, yet we can often end being in the same situation year in, year out, where we’ve suddenly left it too late, and end up with feeling overwhelmed with all the costs related to the festive season, whether it be food, gifts or travel. As a result, many can then feel tempted to take out a payday loan to help cover the costs over Christmas time. Whilst this can be an acceptable option, providing that you fully understand the terms and conditions, and are only taking out a loan that you know that you can manage, there are also other options available to you too if you feel this may not be the case for you.
According to the Centre for Retail Research, it is estimated that for the average person, Christmas had cost around £800 in 2017. We think the best way to prepare is by preparing early, so take a look at our top tips to help you cover the costs of the festive season this year, so you can enjoy the holidays with peace of mind that you won’t be experiencing financial difficulties in the new year.
Work out how much you need to save
Don’t make the mistake that so many people make year in year out when it comes to Christmas: putting off setting money aside for Christmas. As soon as the festive season ends, most of us make a resolution to plan earlier for Christmas the following year, yet the majority of us fail to do so.
Instead, take into consideration when exactly you get paid. If its the beginning or the middle of the month, then you have approximately four days prior to Christmas Day. If you get paid at the end, then that means you have just three paydays prior to 25th December. Once you know when you are paid, then you can calculate how much you need to set aside. If we take into account that the average Christmas bill being £800 and you have only three paydays left, you will need to save £267, and if you have four paydays left, then you need to save £200 per month.
So that you don’t get tempted before 25th December to dip in and out of the savings, you could separate the money into a different account, such as through an easy access savings account.
Setting a Christmas budget
It may seem early to already set a Christmas budget, but if you are keen to keep your costs down this year, then you should be making it one of your top priorities to put together a plan for the Christmas period, to prevent you from making impulse purchases in the future, or panic-buying at the last minute.
This means taking into account all the things you tend to splurge on at Christmas time, such as travel expenses, presents and food. Do be realistic about your spending though, and how much you can, in reality, afford to spend on each person. If you know your finances are particularly limited this year, why not consider talking to friends or family members about doing secret Santa this year? So that you only have to buy for one person as opposed to buying for everyone.
Use loyalty points
Now is the best time to cash in on those loyalty points you’ve been saving all year. Keep an eye out on points you have managed to accumulate via schemes such as Boots Advantage, Nectar and Clubcard prior to getting ready to go Christmas shopping.
Book Christmas travel in September
Christmas time is a period of the year where many of us travel up and down the country in order to reunite with loved ones we may not get to see at other points during the year. Get ahead of the game and keep an eye out on the limited amount of discounted advance tickets that get released by train companies in September. These tend to be significantly less expensive than those bought on the day of travel. Therefore, if you know that you definitely will be travelling to meet friends and family at Christmas, buy advance tickets.
Remember Black Friday
Plan your Christmas gift list early and take advantage of the Black Friday (as well as Cyber Monday) super sales this Autumn. This year, Black Friday will fall on Friday 23 November, whilst Cyber Monday is on 26 November. These events are some of the most heavily discounted of the calendar year, so make the most of them.
Build up on cashback
Many of us decide to make their festive purchases online these days, and if this is the case for you, try to get into the habit of seeing if you can earn cashback before buying through sites such as Quidco or TopCashback. If you use these websites prior to going through to a retailer and then complete the purchase, you can then receive money back on your spending, helping to boost your December income.