I’m sat here typing this on Tuesday 25th August 2015.
And I thought it’s the 25th… that means something… wait it’s four months till Christmas!
Then I thought, wait I’ve only got four months to save up for Christmas!
Trying to pay for the whole of Christmas out of December’s incomings is a big ask; the Money Advice Service calculates the average household spends almost £500 on the festive period.
Still, four months is better than no months, so here’s a few tips and tricks to help you and your family have a great Christmas without entering January up to your eyeballs in debt.
Save Now, Spend Later
It may be a little late to enter most of the Christmas Saving Clubs – that’s no bad thing, as they often restrict what you can buy, don’t earn you interest and they’re not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority – so if they go bust, so do you – but there’s still time to set up a regular saving scheme.
You don’t even have to involve the banks if you’re only saving small amounts but once you get a decent sum it’s worth trying to earn some interest in a savings account or ISA.
If you have difficulties starting a bank account, try seeing if there’s a credit union nearby. These community run organisations keep money in their local areas, offer much cheaper loans than the payday lenders, are designed to help local people financially and are more likely to help set you up with an account than a bank. You can find your nearest credit union on Credit Unions Wales’ site.
Regards the process of saving it’s better to save a fixed amount, whether that’s daily, weekly or monthly, than sticking whatever is left at the end of the month aside (if there is an ever). The Money Advice Service has some handy calculators to figure out how much and how often you need to save if you want to reach your goals.
If you’re after another way of saving, many supermarkets will be rolling out their stamp and voucher schemes – there’s pros and cons to these methods and again the Money Advice Service has some good tips (about halfway down the page).
All hail eBay! Other similar sites are available, Music Magpie maybe, but we all know if you’re selling stuff online then it’s the big E. Have a clear-out and sell some of your unwanted items. Heck, you might find presents from previous years that could make good gifts for others… just make sure they didn’t give them to you in the first place!
If your kids have things they no longer want, this could be a good time to talk about money, the cost of things and that sometimes spending time with people is more important that lots of presents… well, you can try! As the video below shows, most young people haven’t got a good grasp of what Christmas costs and the earlier you can start educating them about money the better.
Make Your Own Gifts
I thought I’d say before we get onto gifts that emailing customised Christmas cards rather than posting them could save you a lot, as a letter sent first class is now 63p, which can add up quickly. Save the planet and some money by going paperless. But it is still nice to receive a card and keep the Post Office and Royal Mail going, so it’s up to you really.
Anyway, here are some homemade gift ideas that can help keep the cost of Christmas down.
Time vouchers: Find some nice card and print your present – things like the bearer of this voucher is entitled to breakfast in bed or foot rubs or maybe that you’ll be the designated driver on a night out or will clean the car, that kind of thing.
Make your own jams, booze, fudge: This only works on economies of scale, as in the more you make the lower the cost of each individual present. There’s plenty of recipes online and if you go down the jam route, pick your own blackberries and keep the costs down even more. Package it all up with a few fancy ribbons and you’ll save a packet on buying presents.
Knit, stitch and crochet: Time-consuming yes, yarn can be pricey too, but if you make lots of small things – phone covers, hats, key rings, coaster, finger puppets – you can stretch your fabric and time out to lots of presents.
Want more? Check out:
- 101 Make Your Own Christmas Gift Ideas
- Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas
- WikiHow: 8 Ways To Make Your Own Presents
And if that sounds like too much effort or you don’t have enough time then check these 50 gifts for under a fiver from Money Saving Expert.
Finally, despite being US traditions to do with Thanksgiving, they’ve made their way across the Atlantic and Black Friday will be on Friday 27th November 2015 and Cyber Monday is Monday 30th November 2015, so expect flash sales and online discounts on those days.
For information on anything to do with money you can contact:
Also check the Local Information & Useful Links on your local county page on FamilyPoint.
And if you’d like to know more about the services and facilities available to you and your family in your area, talk to your local Family Information Service.