Tuesday, 9 August 2016

How We Afford An Extravagant Christmas On A Tight Budget

Christmas - my ultimate favourite time of year.

Always has been, always will be.

When I think back to the Christmases I experienced as a child, my mind is flooded with memories of lots of wonderful gifts, cupboards full of delicious foods, beautiful decorations adorning the house, and lovely new outfits to wear on Christmas and Boxing day.

Of course every family does Christmas differently, and many people are of the opinion that there is no need to go "OTT" or spend a lot of money to celebrate - and that's fine, it's a personal choice.

But for me personally - I enjoy all of those aspects of Christmas and I want to recreate them with my own children.

But when you're the adult in charge of providing those things, it can be difficult to know how to achieve it when your budget is limited.

We are a very standard income household, we don't have endless cash to splurge and as much as I love Christmas, I would never want to put us into debt to be able to afford it - so in order to give my family the Christmas that I want them to have, I have found my own ways of making it more affordable.

Here are some of the ways I achieve that:

*Saving A Small Amount Each Week

It sounds so obvious but saving is, of course, key to it all.

I have always loved the idea of opting in to saving schemes such as Park where you pay a small amount of money each week, and are given vouchers to the value of what you've saved in time for Christmas shopping - but what worries me about those schemes is that the company may end up in trouble and you could lose everything that you've contributed - it's happened before just a couple of years ago, and many people were left without any of their hard earned Christmas savings. That would be devastating.

So for that reason, I refuse to join these schemes but instead I do it myself at home.

Each week, I put away a small amount of money into the Christmas pot. Yes it takes some self discipline not to dip into it, but knowing how much it helps us out at Christmas stops me.

Now of course this can be difficult to do if money is tight, but it doesn't have to be a huge amount that you're putting away - even saving £2 a week will leave you with £100 by the time Christmas comes and that can be a big help.

Personally, I put away £10 per week - it's a small enough amount of money that I don't miss it but when Christmas is upon us, I'm left with £500 toward the cost which is always a big help.

Also, if you are a fellow blogger then occasionally you may be asked to do a brand collaboration in return for a gift voucher to a store of your choice - companies such as Mumsnet offer these collaborations often and so do many others - a lot of bloggers turn them down because they feel payment should be in cash, but I ALWAYS take them because they add up quickly - last year I managed to save £900 worth of vouchers throughout the year which meant that the cost of our Christmas was largely covered by the vouchers.

This year the voucher offers have been fewer, but I do have £380 worth saved so far and it's only August - so it's still a big help! If you're a blogger who is offered gift vouchers, don't be so quick to turn them down and don't spend them unless you need them - put them in your Christmas pot!

*Bargain Hunting Throughout The Year

This is my absolute top tip, and is the way that I manage to get a lot of top brand toys and desirable gifts for my children without them costing a fortune.

If you wait until after October to buy your Christmas gifts, you will be paying top price for them because everybody wants them at that time of year and stores know this so they don't need to offer any discounts - but if you buy them earlier in the year when the demand is less and the stores need to entice people through their doors, then you're going to get a much better price.

Throughout the year, I make sure that every time I hear about a sale or a special offer - I have a look to see if there's anything I could put away for Christmas.

I've been a member of Bargain Buys For Busy Mums on Facebook for a long time now, and I'm also subscribed to their emails so I'm alerted when there's a sale or great offer on - members regularly post great deals that they've found on their Facebook group too and I have bagged some amazing bargains this way.

This year, I have already bought and put away both Tyne & Noah's main Christmas presents at over 60% off their retail value, and a few smaller gifts each too - all via this amazing bargain finding site!

It really does help as I know that the pressure for Christmas is already off because no matter what happens, I have their main presents already sitting in the attic waiting for them and they cost me less than half of the price that they will no doubt be selling for come Christmas time!

*Shopping The Christmas Sales

Again it sounds obvious, but so many people don't take advantage of it - ok it can be difficult to buy toys and gifts this early if you're buying for children because who knows what their interests will be in a years time, but you DO know what size clothing they're likely to be wearing next year and so if - like me - you have a penchant for Christmas novelty jumpers or you know what kind of outfit you want for Christmas day, buy them in the Christmas sales the year before!

I buy next years Christmas jumpers every year right after Christmas from Next, and instead of paying £13 per jumper...I pay around £4...and it saves the hassle of worrying about it when Christmas comes around!

So there you have it, this is how I manage to have a lavish Christmas on a tight budget - these may not be ground breaking tips and they're certainly not anything that you won't have heard about before, but they WORK for me year after year.

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