This year, as the double dip recession hits us even harder, and someone mentions the C word… Christmas, you probably feel more like Scrooge than one of Santa’s little helpers, especially when people dare to bring up the subject when the summer months are barely behind us. But when we have the prospect of another thrifty Christmas looming upon us, planning is everything. The more prepared you are for Christmas, the more money you will be able to save and the more enjoyable Christmas will be.
If when you imagine a Christmas on a budget your family has morphed into the Royles sat round the table eating an inedible turkey and drinking pints of Lidl’s version of Bailey’s – don’t worry it won’t be like that… unless you want it to be of course!
This version of Christmas on a budget will be just like any other Christmas minus a few minor luxuries and by January, your pockets will hopefully feel significantly heavier than unusual! So starting with the planning – work out how many people you have to buy gifts for and how much money you have to play with. If you have a large family the best thing to do is sit down together and set a limit of how much you can spend on each person. It may sound like an awkward conversation but the chances are your relatives will be relieved.
It’s very tempting to hit a shopping centre, Christmas gift list in hand and just blitz everything in one go, however the reality is you will probably end up spending more than you need to. More often than not, you can find the DVD or gadget you are looking for cheaper online. So make sure you shop spend a few minutes shopping round on the internet to find the cheapest place – just be aware of delivery prices. To make it even easier for you, there are several price comparison apps you can get to help you find the best price – try Barcode Hero and RedLaser. Look out for the My Voucher Codes app too which will show you all the offers that available where you are.
Plan Your Food Shop in Advance
Walk in any supermarket in the run up to Christmas and you will be bombarded with offers on every Christmas food you can think of, so stock up early and avoid that scary and frankly nightmarish Christmas shop we all dread. Get your festive chocolate while it’s on offer and also make the most of any alcohol offers that are available – as long as you have the self-control to leave them alone until Christmas Day!
It’s always a bit of a gamble knowing when to get your Christmas turkey; you can order it, you might pay a bit more but you are guaranteed to get your hands on one. There is an option of taking a risk and trying to get a reduced on Christmas Eve but there is always the chance you won’t get one and will end up rummaging around the freezer looking for an alternative – I’m not sure anyone would be very impressed with Turkey Twizzlers for their dinner! Another alternative is to scrap the turkey all together and get a nice piece of beef or lamb.
Make Your Own Cards
It sounds cheesy but everyone appreciates a home-made card, anyone could go into a shop and pick up a pack of cards but making them shows you’ve really thought about that person – they don’t need to know you are doing it to save money! A great way of making cards is to simply cut last year’s cards up and attach them onto some nice card – just don’t send it to the person who gave you the card last year! Another great tip to remember is to buy your Christmas cards and wrapping paper for the following year in January when all the shops are desperate to shift them.
So now you have the knowledge, you just need to come to terms with the fact that you’re going to have to start your Christmas shopping a few months early! Just focus on the image of you sat with your feet up, glass of wine in one hand, mince pie in the other, several days before the 25th, safe in the knowledge that you are fully prepared for a stress free and relaxing Christmas.
A budget Christmas may not seem particularly luxurious but judging by the amount of high street shops advertising huge discounts and sales left right and centre – splashing the cash just isn’t fashionable when it comes to Christmas 2012.
This article was written by Meredith Watts on behalf of Aspire Money; providers of bad credit loans to give you a helping hand when times are tough, even if you have poor credit or a CCJ.