6 top tips to help manage your Christmas spending

by Leeds Building Society

Christmas is the season to be jolly…but for many it can also be a season of financial stress! Presents, parties and decorations can all cost a pretty penny, so we have put together a list of top tips to help manage your Christmas spending.

1. Decide on a budget (and stick to it)!

Working out your budget first allows you to prioritise your spending and make sure you’ve got all the essential costs covered. Setting a maximum spending amount for gifts, food, family gatherings and work parties will help stop your spending from becoming out of control!

Buying online can save both time and money. You can often find gifts cheaper here than on the high street, again helping you stick to that all-important budget. You’ll need to factor in time for delivery though, so write your gift list and start shopping as soon as you can.

As an extra tip – although it’s not for everyone, sending cards by email can be a big money saver too…

2. Start early to make the most of sales

Keep an eye out for huge discounts on Black Friday and other sales in the run up to Christmas. There are lots of websites that will tell you about the latest offers and you could sign up to a few apps that automatically let you know about the latest deals.

If you have a few favourite shops, remember to use your loyalty cards. If you’ve already built up some points then you may be able to use them to get money off presents, decorations and the supermarket shop too – you’ll be surprised how much you could save!

If you’re traveling to see family and friends over Christmas, book your train or plane tickets early. Cheaper fares are available several weeks before you travel, so the earlier you book, the more you can save.

3. Save instead of borrowing

In the long run, you’ll find that it’s much better to save to cover Christmas expenses, rather than borrowing when you feel the pinch. Putting aside just a small amount each month will really build up your savings over the year. If you take out a savings account, you could earn interest on top whilst you’re at it! Just be aware that your account may come with restrictions, such as how and when you can access and withdraw your money.

If you have children or grandchildren, why not teach them the valuable life lesson of saving and open a savings account as a gift for them – it’ll help them get into the savings habit early and manage their own Christmas spending when they get older.

Although we recommend you don’t borrow if you can avoid it, we know this isn’t always possible. If you are thinking of borrowing, visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk for free and impartial guidance on things you should consider before you do.

4. Sell unwanted items

Get rid of unwanted items to earn some extra cash. Declutter your home and consider selling those unused toys and clothes. You’ll be surprised how much you can earn, and it could help you build up a pot of cash for your Christmas spending. However, you should check and seek advice on any impact on your tax position, particularly if you regularly sell things online.

5. Make use of Charity Shops

Save money and consider buying your cards and gifts from local charity shops. You can find real bargains with many items still new with tags. Even older items may be valuable as vintage is a current big trend. They also stock craft items so you can make gifts yourself. If you have children this is a great way to get them involved and to add a personal touch to a grandparents’ gift.

6. Secret Santa

Secret Santa is a fun way to exchange presents when there is a large group of you without breaking your budget. Just agree a maximum spend per person and away you go.