Now that Halloween and Bonfire Night are over. I feel it’s perfectly OK to start talking about Christmas. Party season is nearly upon us. So let’s look at ways in which we can take the financial stress out of this festive season. You can find 10 ways to enjoy this Christmas on a budget.
1. Spread the costs
November is my month of preparation. I look at what expenses are going to come through in December to be able to plan accordingly. Any big expenses such as train travel are good to get out of the way before your next paycheck comes through. Try and buy as many things as possible this month to free up your time and money when party season is truly upon us!
2. Book early to travel home
If you need to travel home for Christmas. Buy your ticket now to get the best deals on ticket prices. Whether you need to book a ticket home by plane, train or bus. The further ahead you book, the cheaper the tickets will be. Martin Lewis recommends booking tickets 10-12 weeks ahead to get the best prices. It’s better to buy now f you haven’t already done so, rather than leave the expenses to December when you want to focus on having fun!
Christmas Eve falls on a Tuesday this year. So if you want to enjoy a long weekend at home, you may need to book Monday and Tuesday off work (depending on your workplace holiday policy) before you proceed.
3. Boost your health
Christmas time is often the time when cold germs, flu, sore throats and the general lurgy are doing the rounds. I have been cooking casseroles this week to boost my intake of vitamins and minerals. Nutrition is important. It’s important to take care of your health. You can make lots of nutritious meals on a budget.
My mother spent years telling me to wash my hands after I have been out and about in the city. Keep hand sanitiser with you (in your handbag or at work) and make sure you keep washing your hands.
If like me you have a chronic or long-term illness. You should look at buying an NHS pre-payment certificate. It will save you so much money over the course of a year. Buy supermarket’s own cold and flu tablets to save money.
This is the time to go through your wardrobe to sell any unwanted items. Whether you choose to sell on eBay, Facebook, Depop. This is the time to get rid of anything you don’t want or use to make some extra cash.
5. Family Secret Santa / NUPP pact
Christmas is supposed to be a season for giving, but not at the detriment of your financial and mental health. If you have a large family, why not agree to a Secret Santa this year? Martin Lewis from MoneySavingExpert recommends agreeing on a NUPP pact, a no unnecessary presents pact.
Last year Christmas was sponsored by Amazon Prime, as I had everything gift-wrapped and sent to family members. This year, my mother and I started buying presents when I last went home. We always buy each other a small gift for Christmas day, Then our main present to each other is bought in the Christmas sales, which is something we do together and a lovely bonding moment.
6. Take on a side hustle
I am a massive advocate of trying to add to your income to make life easier. So many opportunities exist to make some extra cash before Christmas. Whether you fancy working as bar staff, doing promo work, doing surveys from the comfort of your own home, You can boost your income to help you get through Christmas. A side hustle can also be something you do all year round to give your income an extra boost.
7. Start saving for an emergency fund
It might seem strange to recommend saving for an emergency fund when you have so many expenses this month. One of the best things I ever did was to start saving £25 a week for an emergency fund, putting it into a Virgin Money savings account, which I couldn’t touch. Christmas can be expensive, so January can be a very testing month for the finances. Especially when you get paid earlier than usual and have to make this last until the end of January. I automate this each week so I have an emergency fund, just in case of…well emergencies.
This is the second year I have created a Foodbank Reverse Advent Calendar, inspired by the UK Money Bloggers Group. It doesn’t matter how broke I have been in my life. I always try to give back. If I haven’t had the money, I have always tried to give my time. This year I will donate my Foodbank calendar locally in South London.
9. Get cashback on all presents
Something very easy to forget. Whether you intend to hold out for the Black Friday deals at the end of the month. Or are keeping an eye out for deals on the high street. Don’t forget to use cashback sites to make your final Christmas purchases.
10. Don’t put Christmas on credit
It’s OK to put some things on credit cards in the countdown to Christmas. However, it’s not OK to sink yourself further into unmanageable debt just for one day. Christmas can be stressful when you have money worries. Look at how much money you realistically have for the Christmas period and budget accordingly. I personally love Monzo for allocating money for different things using their spending pots. It’s so much easier to budget.