How to plan financially for Christmas when money is short

September 14, 2016

Christmas can be stressful for all of us, but particularly so if you are short of money and have a limited budget for presents and celebrations. Making the money stretch can be very difficult, but you can plan ahead to make the most of the New Year sales.

If you follow our tips for budgeting and saving, you’ll soon be in control of what can be the most expensive time of the year.

So where do you start with your financial plan for Christmas, and how can you get the most out of your money?

Spread the cost over the whole year

Although buying presents for the following Christmas may seem a little premature when you are still celebrating the current one, it’s never too early to save on items that you will need to buy at some point anyway.

If you have the money available and see some gifts that would be ideal, it’s wise to take advantage of the discount and get ahead for next year. You can also make huge savings on Christmas cards and wrapping paper, costs which are often overlooked, but that add up considerably.

Plan your purchases and start saving as soon as possible

It’s important to make a plan for Christmas spending, and stick to it. That means setting an affordable budget for each friend or family member, and not being tempted to spend more money on them in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

If you can afford to put some money aside each week starting in January, however small the amount, you’ll be surprised how much you have saved towards the end of the year. It’s also a good idea to keep the money out of reach in a separate account to avoid temptation.

Make your own gifts

Most people love receiving homemade gifts, as they understand the time and effort that’s gone into making them. You can also save yourself a lot of money this way if you have the spare time.

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be crafty or creative, there are plenty of tutorials online for making biscuits, chocolates, and other gifts, and even for creating your own wrapping paper and gift tags.

Cut back on the presents

As families grow in numbers, Christmas can sometimes feel like a financial burden rather than a pleasure. Others in the family may be feeling the strain on their finances too, and might welcome the idea of cutting back a little.

It’s the thought that counts, and although each gift may cost less, you can tailor it to the individual – then you stay in control of your finances without losing the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas food and drink

It’s not just the presents that can send you into debt at Christmas. Food and drink is a crucial part of the celebrations for many people, but the cost can cause misery and debt for months to come.

It’s tempting to buy everything you need just before the big day, but as with the presents, there are certain food items you can buy during the year. Non-perishables, such as packets of sauces and stuffing, can be purchased months before the big day and stored safely.

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