Wednesday, 28 October 2015

How To Budget For Christmas

With Christmas now less than 90 days away (SQUEEEEE!) it's time to really start taking the planning and prepping seriously!
I once heard a comedian say that when the last firework goes up on Bonfire Night the eyes of women across the nation suddenly narrow in concentration and planning and the word "CHRISTMAS" emerges from their certainly made me chuckle as, for me at least, this is very very true!
Once Halloween and Bonfire nights celebrations are over, my mind is firmly set on the festive season and I want to know that everything is done and dusted before the end of November arrives!
But of course with this being without doubt the most expensive time of the year it's important (Vital in fact!) to budget and plan ahead...
Here are a few of the ways I save as much as possible on Christmas each year, and prepare myself budget-wise.
1)Plan ahead
I strongly believe that in any aspect of life - fore warned is fore armed and so with that in mind from around the middle of September I start to pay extra attention to any adverts on tv that my son seems to be showing an interest in and listening in to anybodys hints and suggestions of what might be high on their Christmas want lists - I make lists with gift ideas for each person I need to buy for, and then keep an eye on any sales or offers that crop up - often Argos and Smyths have their sales in September and these are well worth looking out for as the savings can be substantial! - if I spot an opportunity to check an item off my list whilst its an offer then I can grab it with both hands and save those all important pennies!
 It also helps to get ahead in the dreaded toy-wars - if I notice that an item my son wants is going to be one of the popular ones that year I can make sure I'm ahead of the game and don't end up running around every store on Christmas eve trying desperately to get my hands on it!
 2) Take advantage of saving schemes or start your own!
I find voucher savings schemes to be really handy when it comes to putting away money for Christmas - by just paying in a small amount each month I can accumulate enough money over the course of the year to cover the cost of Christmas without really feeling the pinch all at once. Alternatively instead of choosing to pay into a scheme and be paid out in vouchers, I can set up a direct debit to put a certain small amount of money aside into my ISA each week to cover the costs - I find doing this really helps me to relax about the cost each year as I know I have a good amount set aside.
3) Check off the little jobs early
The little amounts can really make a difference when it comes to Christmas, and things such as stamps or even buying Christmas cards themselves are often the smaller expenses we can easily forget to budget for.
I take care of this by picking up items such as wrapping paper, gift tags, selotape etc very early - usually before I've bought any presents - as this is usually when they're cheapest. I also seek out cheap Christmas cards online or in stores early on and buy them in ready, before the mayhem begins!
4) Save up any vouchers or discounts you can throughout the year
If you receive incentive vouchers or even birthday gifts in the form of vouchers throughout the year, or perhaps if you enter competitions and find yourself with vouchers as prizes then saving them up to spend all at once can be a huge help - this year I've managed to save almost £900 in vouchers for one particular scheme after being part of a reward scheme exchanging opinions on service for store vouchers, and knowing that I have that amount aside has covered a substantial chunk of the cost of Christmas for me...which is a HUGE weight off my mind!
This may not sound like much, but every little really does help when it comes to Christmas and I find that taking these little steps makes a big difference when it comes to feeling the pinch that little bit less.

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