Christmas is a time of year when many of us overspend. Whether it's buying presents for loved ones or treating ourselves to a festive feast, it's easy to get carried away and end up with a hefty credit card bill come January.
However, you can take some simple steps to avoid a money meltdown this Christmas. Following these simple tips, you can enjoy a stress-free Christmas without breaking the bank.
1. Know your budget
Christmas happens every year, and being prepared is key to avoiding going into debt or breaking the bank and piling on the stress. Watching the kids as they happily open their presents is a must too. Set a budget, figure out how much you need to cover the festive season, start saving and stick to the budget no matter what. The earlier you start, the easier it will be.
2. Don't rush your list-making
Santa has the right idea when it comes to Christmas. Don't rush your list-making, and make sure to check it twice; think about what each person will love and value. Then, make a gift list and stick to that list. Buy with thoughtfulness and purpose. Christmas shopping this way will have a much bigger impact than grabbing a last-minute bath set that will never get used. Take your time to consider what you want to buy for each person.
3. Start Shopping Ahead of Time
Making a list early allows you to shop at your leisure and find the perfect gift at the ideal price. Leaving shopping until the last minute will make a giant hole in your pocket. Start gift shopping early, shop around and compare prices before handing over your hard-earned cash.
4. Shop with purpose
Avoid Sale Days "Just Because". Popping into the shop for a look or scrolling online for no reason other than boredom is bound to be an expensive pastime.
In times past, I would search the lightning deals and Black Friday sales only to buy random things that didn't make good gifts. However, if you are shopping in specific sales like black Friday, shop with purpose and have your gift list to hand.
5. You Don't Have to Buy for Everyone!
The last few years have been hard on everyone, leaving money tighter than ever. So it might be worth taking the brave step and asking loved ones not to buy gifts for each other.
It might feel strange, but with the times that are in it, you could be giving the best gift of all. That relieves the financial pressure off the other person. Instead, cherish their company by cooking at home and inviting them over.
6. Try Some Homemade Gifts
Shabby chic and a homemade home are right on trend right now. So join the ranks and get crafting some of your festive gifts. Beanie hats, potpourri, soaps, candles, biscuits, jams and cakes are all welcome gifts. The more enthusiastic of you out there might stretch to a hamper of homemade wonders if time allows. Also, homemade gifts can often be better quality than the bought versions.
7. Embrace a natural Christmas.
Decorating with nature is lovely. Gathering holly, pine cones and other festive natural delights to create wreathes, mantle garlands, and table centrepieces, which can be gorgeous to any home. And cost practically nothing more than your time and energy.
Natural decorations are a great way to spruce up your home for the season at almost zero cost and make every room look fabulous.
8. Make staying at home magical
Evenings in don't have to be dull and gloomy. Bake gingerbread cookies, warm the mulled wine and invite friends and neighbours over. If you don't have the budget to be out on the town, create your own Christmas magic at home.
9. Have your own free Christmas traditions
Nothing says Christmas more than festive movie nights. Pyjamas on, handing out cups of hot chocolate and popcorn for a night of the Polar Express. Another great Christmas tradition is to check out the local Christmas lights with a nighttime family drive, or for the more musically inclined, why not try some carolling? (ok, maybe not)
10. Revamp the Christmas stockings
Christmas stockings are one of the best festive sights. This year it is time to level them up and exchange meaningful, useful stocking fillers instead. Load them up with fun essentials instead of expensive nick knacks—things like nail varnish, hair care or bath bombs, brushes and bows. Add a thoughtful note or letter to tell them how much you care.
Having a budget Christmas is a lovely way to make memories and focus on creating traditions that will last a lifetime. Gifts are only one part of the festive season. But this time of year has so much more to offer.
Be intentional with your money. It will help you see the beauty of this season.
I'll be sharing more money-saving tips and money mindset tips with you soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, make sure you are subscribed to the Smart Money Times Newsletter and get ahead with your money.