I know that Christmas can be an expensive time for a lot of people and we all can worry about how we will find the money that we need to spend. So the good folks at the Institute of Inertia asked me to put together my top six tips for being a savvy spender this Christmas. Before I go on to the fab tips, “what is the Institute of Inertia”? I hear you ask. Well it is a panel of experts and me and Ricky from Skint Dad, I wrote about them here.
Tips to be a Savvy Spender this Christmas
- Secret Santa – costs can really start to escalate when shopping for a long list of family and friends. To help manage spending, introducing a Secret Santa can be a great money saver. Pull names from a hat, with each individual assigned one person to buy for. The guessing game quickly starts as to who has who, adding some fun in the lead up to the big day. And if you want to be super savvy, why not make a family pact and agree to wait until the sales start and do your present shopping then.
- Crafty Christmas – the personal touch always goes down a treat with my friends and family so have a go at making your own gifts this Christmas; homemade chocolates, chutney or even try getting crafty! It can really help in terms of bringing costs down and can be a lot more fun than traipsing around busy shops.
- Wish list – I always find it’s good to allow yourself a few luxuries at Christmas. Have a think about what matters most to you (for me it’s the Turkey with all the trimmings!) and then make sure you’ve saved enough to make it happen. Writing it all down will help ensure you’re prioritising the right things.
- Shop around – I know just how handy a credit card can be when it comes to spreading the load at Christmas but I always find it daunting when thinking about all the different types on offer. My advice is to be informed, so you can decide what the right option is for you. Make sure you shop around for the best deal and figure out what is going to work for you.
- Family fun – It might sound obvious but have a think about how you can celebrate as a family. Christmas is the perfect opportunity to organise some get-togethers and have fun as a family in the warm indoors. Whether it’s spending the day decorating the house, baking homemade festive treats or visiting your local Christmas market, these activities won’t make a big dent in your budget and will keep the kids entertained during the festive period.
- Switch and save – With darker, colder nights, lighting and heating can go into overdrive. Next time you reach for the thermostat, consider when you last checked if you could make a saving on your energy bill. It might sound like a daunting task but actually it can take just ten minutes to compare potential savings. Use a price comparison site like comparethemarket.com, who say people can save on average £235*.
Practising what I preach.
It is really important to me that I am authentic and that you know I am not sat here offering you advice that I do not take myself! So I do each and every one of the above.
I try and make Christmas a time that we focus on others and also family. This year we are giving the boys the gift of time, in that we are giving them an experience each month. Not only do experiences bring more lasting happiness that things, they are also spread throughout the year meaning that I do not have to budget for them all in one month. Instead I am going to give them a calendar with the experiences wrote in to the appropriate months.
MadDad’s work do a Secret Santa and it really is a great way of everyone getting a gift, although if you ask him he would tell you it is rigged as this is his fourth year of getting the boss! In our family we also only buy for the kids. So I only have two nieces to buy for and we don’t buy for my brother, sister in law or brother in law. This is a big saving for us all as a family.
I would only ever advocate a credit card if you can pay it off and for emergencies. This week I had a blow out on the way back from an appointment, which meant a new tire that I hadn’t budgeted for. This is when my credit card comes in really useful. I know that I will have the cash to pay it off in January and I don’t have to worry about struggling to find the cash for it this week (when I was buying the stocking fillers).