Christmas is a wonderful time of year for millions of us across the country. This Christmas however, there isn’t a single person I’ve spoken to, who isn’t considering downsizing their Christmas spending. Some by a little, and some by a lot.
The cost of living crisis, inflation, energy price increases and wage stagnation is putting financial pressure on many households. By focusing on saving money and the tips in this article I hope to help as many people avoid going into debt and possibly saving not only their Christmas but their financial well-being for the year ahead.
Tips to save money this Christmas
Sharing the cooking of a Christmas dinner
With the average cost of a Christmas dinner topping over £100, before you consider booze consumed, this financial outlay is often a lot more than people anticipate.
When bringing family and friends together for a big meal such as your Christmas dinner, you may consider what our American cousins call a potluck. For the rest of us, this just means that those guests coming for Christmas dinner bring a part of it with them. Then the collective meal is shared among all.
Someone could bring the starter, another the dessert or you can share the burden of cooking the main meats of your dinner.
Secret Santa amongst family or friends
Over the years as families and friendships grow, the number of presents we buy for these groups seems to multiply. Many of us spend hundreds on presents for extended families and friends.
Instead of buying presents for everyone, why not consider a group secret Santa? Each person chooses someone to buy for at random and then you buy a singular present or presents of a certain value.
When buying gifts, many people feel obliged to return this gifting, possibly putting themselves in a precarious financial situation. Especially if you bought them something of value. Be mindful that not everyone’s situation is the same as your own.
Experiences, not things
There is of course a suggestion that could be made amongst different groups that you stop buying gifts for each other altogether. This could be your group of friends for example. Instead of buying gifts, you choose to do something together.
Admittedly this would be hard to get a child to buy into, but I have seen it with family and friends that the “gifting side” of Christmas is one more thing to stress about in the run-up to Christmas.
Personally, a group of my closest friends and I choose to do an activity after Christmas when the hustle and bustle of the season are long behind. We choose a budget-appropriate activity and on occasion, this could be as simple as a hike followed by a lunch in a pub, but overall this makes for better memories than an ill-thought-out gift.
Reducing the use of Christmas lights
If there was a sign of the cost of living crisis in my city, it would be the notable reduction in outdoor Christmas lights around homes and businesses I see on my travels. I’m not against Christmas lights at all, but when you tally the additional cost of electricity, running these for 5-6 weeks, 4 hours a day, then reducing your usage could actually save a significant sum.
In December, the days are shorter and the darkness lingers much longer. Many choose to have their Christmas lights on for longer than they would have normally. One tip you could try is setting a timer for a specific period when you’ll have your lights on. Or just agree to put them on less at home. Being mindful of usage is the first step to reducing your electricity costs.
Above everything else, don’t go into debt
If you’re considering borrowing to pay for Christmas, please do anything you can to avoid this at all costs.
Getting into debt to afford this Christmas should be your absolute last resort and certainly not for anything deemed essential. Reduce any costs wherever you can, even if it means a lesser amount of gifts or pairing back Christmas somewhat.
The cost of going into debt will last far beyond this Christmas period and long after the memories fade.
What can I do for next year?
Many of us will have already gotten our presents in and our supplies bought for this Christmas. What’s done is done as they say. But while we’re in a money-saving mindset, you could start thinking about next Christmas, taking care of the financials to allow you to think about the rest without worry.
Start saving early
Starting now, we can spread the cost of next Christmas over the next 12 months. By setting a budget that includes money for events such as Christmas, you can ensure that you know how much you can spend next year and that the cost doesn’t come as a surprise. What great about saving throughout the year is that if any toys, clothes or other presents come up for sale during the year, then you have money set aside to pay for these
Every year we go out and buy wrapping paper, Christmas cards, new Christmas lights and more recently Christmas “jammies”. A friend takes to the shops a few days after the new year to replenish the stocks, saving up to 80% on some items they’d be buying again later in the year.
If there are items you buy each year, consider buying them in the January sales.
New year financial detox
A financial detox is a great way to reset your finances and focus on building headroom between your income and expenses. We’ve covered this extensively in our Financial Detox post, but let’s just say that if you want to make positive changes to your finances next year, this is a post you need to read (and video to watch)
From all of us here at foundered.co.uk and our family to yours, we wish you the very happiest of Christmases and a wonderful New Year.