I don’t want to get you into a panic, but I’m sure you know there are, as of today, a hundred days till Christmas. If you’re like me, every year you swear that next year you’ll prepare for Christmas, get everyone’s presents well ahead of time and then, when it comes round again, the same thing happens. You find yourself stuck fighting the crowds again, with just a few days to go. If you’re living on a budget already, Christmas time can hit your wallet hard. So if you haven’t done it already, for the good of your state of mind (and for the good of your bank balance) it’s time to start planning right now.
The first step is setting a goal and the second is sticking to it. So, set a hard limit on what you can realistically spend on things like food, drinks and presents for the family and stick to it. I don’t know about you but once I can say to myself, “THIS is how much I will spend on Christmas this year” the process becomes a lot clearer and easier to break down. Check out capmoneycourse.org to gain some great tips.
The next step is to work out how to get to your goal. Usually the simplest way is to put aside small amounts often rather than in one go. If you’re paid monthly, there are four monthly pay days before Christmas Day. Most banks offer a regular savings account so it takes a small amount from your regular account automatically.
If you’re part of a credit union or would like to join one, many of them offer Christmas club savings schemes. Take a look at Savings Stamps and Christmas Club Schemes where you can pay in regular amounts, effectively buying in bits, and soon it’ll add up to a lot.
Remember if you shop at the same supermarket all the time, it might be a good idea to get a customer loyalty card and save up points for the big Christmas shop. You can save points or buy stamps – do your homework and compare the deals on offer.
Some people start up a Christmas box at this time of year, buying a few bits to get ahead in the run up to the festivities. This can really work but don't let it stop you deciding on your spending limits.
Have you considered taking on a Christmas job to boost your income? Most retailers and the Royal Mail recruit from September but it's worth popping your head round the door of local restaurants who are likely to need extra hands on deck for the Christmas season.
This bit is important: don’t freeze up in a panic and do nothing to prepare. Do something while you’re in September. This next bit is even more important: the most valuable thing is the time you spend with the people you love the most.