Christmas is the most expensive time of the year for many households, but with the cost-of-living crisis squeezing the finances of all but the highest earners, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be. With so many people struggling this year, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you make the most of your budget and still have a fantastic Christmas.
1. Set a budget and stick to it
If there’s one sure way to save money at Christmas, it’s to set a budget before you start your Christmas shopping. Decide what gifts you’re going to buy everyone, shop around for the best prices and never spend more than you planned, no matter how tempting it is. Here are a few more tips to help you create an effective budget you can stick to.
2. Be more mindful of the food you buy
When it comes to Christmas food, there are some absolute must-haves, but there are also plenty of festive extras we all buy that we could easily live without. We often pile mince pies, shortbread biscuits and chocolate sky-high on the coffee table and then struggle to eat it all. Buying a little of what you like the most, particularly when you factor in the soaring food costs this year, could help you make a big saving.
3. Say no to tit-for-tat giving
We all understand the joy of giving, but many of us get into the ‘I give to you, so you give to me’ trap at Christmas and buy for people who aren’t really a priority. Yes, it’s lovely to give gifts to friends, wider family and people at work, but not if it creates a financial burden. When times are tough, sometimes the best gift is to climb off the gift-giving treadmill and release others from the obligation of having to give to you.
4. Take steps to reduce your energy consumption
Rising energy bills are one of the biggest causes of the financial pain many people are feeling this winter. However, even at Christmas, it’s worth being mindful of how much energy you use.
For example, do you have to oven cook a whole turkey for three hours when you could buy a turkey crown that cooks in one hour? Similarly, popping on those Christmas jumpers and dropping the temperature by a degree or two can help you make a saving. If you have a combi boiler, another effortless way to save is to reduce the flow temperature, which is usually set at a higher rate than needed. Here’s a simple guide to help you do it.
5. Avoid the tyranny of wrapping paper
Wrapping paper is not only expensive but it’s also rarely recyclable. You can protect your wallet and the planet by using one of the many old gift bags you probably have lying around the house or wrapping your presents in brown paper that’s cheap, recyclable and also looks the part. Here are a few other eco-gift wrapping ideas.
6. Buy second-hand Christmas jumpers
If you’re crying out for a new Christmas jumper, take a look at quality second-hand clothing sites like Vinted and Depop before spending good money on something you’re probably only going to wear once. They offer cheap delivery and low prices on festive clothing, much of which has never been worn before.