Even a merry little Christmas can be a pricey one. According to Mintel, the average shopper forks out £367 on gifts alone, and that’s before paying for Christmas dinner or decorations.
With the cost of living rising and many of us tightening our belts as a result, saving up is the best way to reduce your levels of festive stress.
So, with just 10 weeks to go before Christmas, here’s how you can save money if you’re not among the super organised who have already started shopping.
Firstly, ask yourself – do you really need to spend it?
If you’re on a tight budget then this is an important, if not the obvious, question to ask. If the answer is yes then consider cheaper alternatives you could go for, and hunt for better deals and discounts to make sure you’re getting the best price. Homemade Christmas gifts can be cost-cutting and more personal, too.
According to the Money Advice Trust, a third of Brits borrow money to pay for presents this Christmas and one in five use a credit to pay for food. That’s a hangover that’ll last way beyond Boxing Day so it’s important to be honest about what you can afford and set a budget. Money Saving Expert warns against borrowing as people can easily end up trapped in a debt spiral.
And if you need a bit of a hand in the willpower stakes then you could always try Money Saving Expert’s ‘demotivator’ tool here – just type in your unnecessary spending and it’ll try to put you off.
Let the tech do it for you.
If you can afford to do it, then saving what you can in small chunks might feel more manageable and you can download an app to sort it for you for minimal hassle. There are plenty of apps out there that help you to budget and save.
If you bank with HSBC, Santander, Lloyds, NatWest, Nationwide, RBS, TSB, Halifax, First Direct, Co-operative Bank or Metro, you can use an app called Chip. Chip works by calculating how much you can afford to put away, and then puts it away for you automatically.
Money Dashboard is a free app that compares itself to a personal financial assistant – if you have more than one bank account it lets you keep track of your spending all in one place and shows you exactly what you’ve been spending your money on. And if you bank online, most banks will show you what you’re spending in easy to view format like a pie chart.
Use a piggybank.
If you’re a traditional type, you could always hide all of your loose change away in a piggybank at the end of each day. Putting away small but frequent amounts towards a budget can add up to a considerable contribution to your budget.
You can start by popping in whatever you have left – from pennies to pound coins to notes. And if you don’t have a piggybank, then don’t buy one – use a jar or mug instead.