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Christmas is a time for giving, a time for family bonding and – for many people – a time for excessive spending. There are lots of things to spend money on at Christmas including presents, food and decorations. For those that are already financially struggling, affording it all can be a real challenge.
If you’re currently broke and wondering how you’re going to financially manage Christmas, here are a few tips that could help.
Should you take out a loan?
Borrowing money to afford Christmas isn’t ideal, but if money is tight it could be the best solution. Consider a short term loan – this will ensure you pay off your debts as soon as possible so that you’re not still making repayments when next year’s Christmas comes around. There are short term loans for bad credit that you can consider. Be prepared to make some cutbacks in January so that you can pay off your loans more easily.
Taking out a loan could be preferential to using a credit card to pay for Christmas. It’s easy to lose track of costs when you’re paying by plastic and high credit card bills are no ho-ho-hoing matter.
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How to save money on gifts
The giving and receiving of guests is a big part of Christmas. Don’t be afraid to warn people that you may not be able to buy anything big this year. Kids are likely to be the big focus – it’s here that you’ll likely be spending the most on gifts and you should prioritise the bulk of your gift-buying budget here.
There are a few different tricks for spending less on Christmas gifts. Here are just a few moneysaving methods:
Shop second hand
You may be able to pick up cheap gifts such as clothes and toys by shopping second hand. Charity shops are often a good place to pick up deals and it could be worth taking a browse around these stores.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of places online to buy cheap used items. Facebook’s marketplace and sites like Gumtree are fantastic for picking up cheap second hand items locally. You can often pick up some real steals and you can skip the cost and hassle of delivery. Make sure to always check the condition of these items thoroughly before buying.
Take advantage of coupons and sales
Coupons and sales can be a way of saving money on new items from the stores. There are many deals to be had in the lead up to Christmas, but you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled.
Black Friday gets a lot of hype, but it isn’t always the best time for deals. One item that is almost always cheaper is electronics – it’s a great time for shopping for items like tablets, wearable tech and TVs. For most other items, it’s largely a marketing gimmick and you’ll get cheaper deals throughout the year.
Take advantage of coupon sites as early as possible to get some of the best discounts. Coupons tend to have tight restrictions over the Christmas period – you may only be able to use them in certain stores on certain days. In other words, always read the small print.
Buy joint presents
When buying big gifts for kids, consider buying joint gifts that two or more kids can share. As well as encouraging sharing, it will lower overall costs by not having to buy individual big gifts.
Similarly you can get multiple people to chip in to reduce the cost of large presents. Rather than letting grandparents and aunts and uncles struggle with gift ideas, ask them to contribute some money towards big gifts.
Make your own gifts
If you’re DIY-savvy, making your own gifts could be a cheap option. A few examples could include crafting jewellery, knitting winterwear or assembling a photo album/collage. It could allow you to create something personalised and unique and the work you’ve put into it is certain to be appreciated.
Many of us get given gifts that we don’t want or need such as luxury toiletries, candles and novelty gifts. Consider regifting these to people (they could be perfect for friends and relatives of whom you haven’t got any ideas or people you may not know very well). Just make sure you don’t regift these items to the people that originally bought them for you!
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What about Christmas dinner?
Another big expense at Christmas is of course dinner. This is something that isn’t easy to prepare for in advance without freezing food for months (which can take away some of the flavour). However, there are still ways to save money.
Cook from scratch
Cooking from scratch is more work, but it will usually save you money. You’ll find cheap tasty recipes online for homemade Christmas pudding, homemade gravy and homemade roast potatoes. You can prepare these on Christmas eve if you don’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen on Christmas day. Don’t be afraid to get friends and family involved too.
Price compare supermarkets online
For items like turkey and sprouts, use online comparison sites like MoneySupermarket to compare each supermarket’s prices. This could allow you to shop around each supermarket to find the best deals on each ingredient. Don’t leave this too late, otherwise food will disappear off the shelves.
Let someone else host Christmas
This is the obvious way to save money on Christmas. If you’re always the host, it could be time for someone else to cook dinner. You can still chip in a few ingredients, but you won’t have to buy everything.
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What about decorations?
No Christmas is complete without decorations. Some people go crazy on tinsel, lights and animatronic glowing snowmen. Don’t feel you have to compete with these neighbours – embrace a more minimal Christmas. A touch of tinsel and a fairy light here and there may be all you need. As for the rest of the items, there are ways to save money.
Make your own decorations
There are plenty of DIY decorations that are cheap to make. The include paper snowflakes and paper mâché baubles. You can even use elements of nature as decorations such as twigs, pine cones, holly and fir branches. You’ll find plenty of sites online detailing how to make DIY Christmas decorations.
Buy a plastic tree
Some people can’t do Christmas without a real tree. If you’re on a tight budget, it could be time to leave this tradition behind. A fake tree has lots of advantages – it’s cheaper, less messy and potentially more sustainable. Whilst you have to chuck away a real tree once you’ve used it, a plastic tree can be used year after year. Which leads onto the next money-saving tip…
Prepare early for next year
Preparing for Christmas early allows you to spread out the cost throughout the year. October may be too late to start planning, but this is always useful advice for next year. Here are just a few individual tips:
Set up savings
Saving up money throughout the year could be one way of preparing for Christmas. The average Brit spends around £1000 on Christmas – although using tips from this guide it can be done for less than £500. By saving £10 a week starting in January, you could have enough to cover it. A high interest savings account could even allow you to make some money on top.
Buy gifts in sales throughout the year
Another strategy is to simply buy gifts throughout the year. These are the biggest cost of Christmas and you can often find great deals throughout the year that can save you some serious money. Some people start shopping in the January sales or may even start shopping as early as Boxing day to take advantage of huge price slashes. The likes of this guide on the best times of the year to buy items could be worth a read for getting the best deals.
Use this year’s decorations next year
You’d be mad to buy new decorations each year. Keep this year’s decorations in a safe place so that you can recycle them next year. You can always add a couple new items each December (or buy them in January when they can be a quarter of the price).
Remember the true meaning of Christmas
With all this in mind, it’s important to remember that you can still have an enjoyable Christmas without spending lots of money. You don’t have put up decorations or prepare a whole Christmas roast if you don’t want to. You don’t even have to buy people gifts. There are so many free activities that can allow you to experience the spirit of Christmas including playing board games with family and friends, going on an evening walk to see the Christmas lights or simply spending the whole day snuggled up on the sofa watching Christmas movies.
*this is a collaborative post