Christmas can be an extremely stressful time when it comes to personal finances. It’s not just about buying expensive presents for your nearest and dearest; there are plenty of ways you can pick up thoughtful gifts without breaking the bank (more on which later!). No, Christmas can be a drain on the wallet for all kinds of reasons, and no matter why you might have found yourself floundering for cash this Christmas, we’re here to help you. Here are 10 of our best tips to ease your money worries and keep you in the black this holiday season.
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1. Budget, budget, budget
Whenever anybody asks what the first thing they should do if they’re looking to save money is, the same advice is always top of the list: create a budget. This should involve not only delineating exactly how much money you have to spend each month, but also tallying up all of your expenditures and understanding how those two figures match up. It may be that you don’t have much wiggle room in your budget, but you’ll never know what your financial situation looks like if you don’t take full stock of it.
2. Take out a personal loan
Many people think that taking out loans will do nothing but hamper their financial health. That isn’t necessarily true. If you can find a trustworthy provider that will give you an unsecured personal loan – that is, a loan that isn’t weighed against your possessions – then you may actually find that paying back your loan promptly will improve your credit score. You can also use a loan like this to consolidate debt, making it so you’re only paying one source of debt back rather than multiple sources.
3. Cancel subscriptions
The subscription economy depends to a large degree on people forgetting they’ve subscribed to something, which we’re all guilty of to some extent. Make sure to comb your bank account for subscriptions you no longer use and cancel them summarily. When you take advantage of 30-day free trials, you can often forget that you’ve left the subscription active, leading to many subscription fees being taken from your account even if you’re no longer using the service.
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4. Be creative with gift-buying
If you’re smart with the way you approach purchasing gifts, they don’t have to cost the earth. For example, why not create something brand new for your intended recipient rather than buying a premade product? If you’ve got the craft skill to do this, it can often drive costs down more significantly than you might think. Even if you’re not artistically inclined, there can be lots of ways to buy inexpensive gifts for your loved ones that they will still adore.
5. Try not to travel
In many countries around the world, travel warnings are currently in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind, it’s probably going to be more difficult to travel this year than it normally would be, but even if you do find yourself in the position where you can travel, you may want to avoid it. Public transport can be incredibly costly if you don’t have a car. Even if you do, you may find yourself spending exorbitant amounts of money on petrol. Not travelling can really bolster your finances.
6. If you must travel, book in advance
Given how close we are to Christmas now, this may be a tip you want to bear in mind for future Christmases. If you absolutely must travel to see relatives or friends, try to book things like train tickets in advance. This can be much cheaper, especially if you book a specific slot that’s off-peak. Try to identify times during which other passengers won’t be travelling in great numbers, as these are the times that will cost you the least when you’re planning your Christmas journey.
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7. Sell things you don’t need
Even if it’s last year’s Christmas presents, selling stuff that’s lying around the house is an excellent way to shore up some money for this year’s haul. Try to be critical with yourself. Do you really need the thing you’ve been keeping around for sentimental reasons or because it “might come in handy one day”? After all, isn’t it better to swap it for something that definitely will come in handy right now? Think carefully about what you’re selling and see if you can clear the house out while you’re at it!
8. Swap your food for cheaper options
It’s entirely possible to create a delicious, mouthwatering Christmas dinner without spending a pretty penny on it. For example, nut roasts often come much cheaper than Christmas turkeys, so if you don’t mind taking the vegan route, they’re equally delicious and much easier on the wallet. Potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and other staples of the Christmas menu can all be found cheaper if you opt for the “wonky” versions, and you can create your own Yorkshire puddings, which is far less costly than buying them premade.
9. Wait until after Christmas to buy presents
It might sound crazy, but goods are often much, much cheaper in the days after Christmas. Boxing Day sales are incredibly common, and if you wait until January, you might find goods even cheaper. This will mean a less present-intensive Christmas Day, but you can couch this as an anti-traditional celebration if you want to. This goes double if you’re looking to buy more expensive goods like electronics or toys; post-Christmas, the bargains on these items are widespread.
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10. Start saving in summer
Again, this is more of a “looking ahead to next year” tip, but if you want to have a financially sound Christmas, you should start saving your money for the holiday early. Think about what you want to buy for your family and friends, and budget for it during the summer. That way, barring any unforeseen upsets, you’ll have the money you need to ensure a merry Christmas for all without having to disappoint anyone. Sometimes people won’t settle for anything other than the present they want, so make sure you’ve got the money for it if that’s the case.