Christmas can be a lot more than just festive for many people. It can also be stressful, with a lot of pressure on spending money on presents and food. With holidays and time off work, we can also see a dip in our pay cheques around Christmas, and pay is often delayed until well after the festive season. So how can you ensure that you stay in the blank this Christmas period? Staying out of debt can be extremely difficult, especially if you have a big family, but there are some things you can do to ease the stress on your bank balance.
Budget until your next pay
Making a budget is the most important thing you can do to stay out of the red. If you spend money blindly and don’t keep track of your incomings and outgoings, you can end up short on cash. You should make a budget on how much you can spend on Christmas presents and events and aim to stick to it. It could also be beneficial to make a weekly or even daily money plan. Make a note of how much you intend to have after you have paid for basic living costs and utilities. Then you can put aside the amount you need for meals, social events and presents. Keep your budget on your phone or somewhere you can see it every day so you don’t get side-tracked.
Make a shopping list
Going Christmas shopping without a clear idea of what you want to buy is a recipe for disaster. You can end up panic-buying and leave the shopping centre with bags of things you didn’t intend on buying. To keep your finances in order this Christmas, start writing lists. Write a Christmas food list, so you don’t buy too much food that will go to waste. Only buy what you need and create a present shopping list so you don’t spend too much money on gifts.
Use a credit card wisely
If you don’t have enough money to cover the costs of Christmas, but you know you’ll have enough money in January, using a credit card over the festive period could ease the financial stress. Just remember to make repayments as soon as you can – don’t forget to pay off your credit card bill!
Invest in a store card
A store card is more restrictive credit card as you can only use it in one specific shop. However, if you expect that you will buy most of your Christmas shopping from one store, it could be worth investing in a store card as they often come with introductory discount offers. It will also allow you to pay for your items after Christmas, as the cost will be covered by the store card.
Look for sales and discounts
Keep an eye out for pre-Christmas sales and short-term offers in shops and online. Retailers know that this will be their busiest period of the year, so they might introduce quick sales to take advantage of the influx of customers and encourage them to buy more. Compare prices of products online before you buy so you know you are getting it for the cheapest price possible.
Consider a loan
If Christmas is going to be a huge drain on your finances and you’re finding it tough to stay above water, it could be worth considering a loan. Some loans, personal or pay day, can help individuals who need to have a financial back-up, with the latter more appropriate for short-term lending. Do your research first into the different types of loans and compare all your options online. You can speak to a financial advisor if your debts seem unmanageable and you should make sure that your loan works for you, with a feasible repayment plan in place.