Friday, December 16, 2016

A Guide To Coping With The Cost Of Christmas

xmas cost
Christmas is a time for giving – for those that don’t have much in our accounts to give this can be a problem. You may have been scraping through the year just fine, but now Christmas is here and it feels like a year’s spending in one month. There are gifts to get for everyone, masses of food for the day, decorations to put up – all on top of the regular bills and spending. No-one should have to be financially crippled by Christmas, but similarly no-one should have to skip this event just get to by. If you’re short of pocket, here are ways to save money this year and survive Christmas!

Spread your Christmas spendings throughout the year

It’s a little late to do this now, but worth taking into account for next year. You can either put aside some money each month for December spending, or you can buy gifts throughout the year. For decorations, take advantage of the January sales. Prices plummet as nobody has any use for Christmas decs any more – why not prepare for the next year instead? Spreading out some of the spendings can soften the blow when it finally reaches December. Obviously certain things such as food will have to be bought nearer the time as these expire (although some may be able to be frozen).

Tell people your situation

Everyone knows that Christmas is expensive. Let people know the situation that you’re in, and they’ll understand if you can’t buy them huge gifts. There’s a lot of generosity around Christmas – if feeding people for dinner is a problem, a family member or friend may invite you around theirs. If you feel like you really have no-one to turn to, look into charities that might work specifically with families in need at Christmas. Telling people that you’re skint may not be easy to do, but so long as you don’t beg for money from people, most people will be understanding.

Take out a loan

If December is the one month that you struggle with, why not take out a loan and slowly pay it back over the next year. There are loan companies that offer relatively small amounts, but have a high approval rate. Application is much easier than going into a bank (you can learn about it at Cigno Loans). Of course, you should always budget exactly how much you are able to pay back over the coming months. And you should never pay off a loan with another loan. Be careful and it can be a lifesaving Christmas strategy. Many people do it.

Make cuts to food and presents

The way to save on any occasion is to make cuts. With gifts, there are countless ways to make trimmings to your budget.

The first is to consider joint presents. Instead of sending a separate present to two nieces or two members of a couple, give them a shared gift that they can both enjoy. Similarly, you can team up with your partner or a sibling to cut the costs on certain gifts.

You then have to decide who really needs a present or a card. If someone hasn’t bothered to send you a gift or message in a few years, cut them off. Save money on postage to distant relatives and friends with a digital Christmas card. Also consider sentiment instead of financial value. A photo album might have more of an impact than a piece of jewellery. Put thought into your presents instead of money – consider private joke items instead of generic cheap tat such as socks and toiletries. For hobbies, buy guide books, t-shirts and mugs instead of actual equipment – sometimes the more practical objects are better chosen by the person with that hobby.

When it comes to food, cut down on treats on the lead up to Christmas – it will make it all the more worthwhile. Remember that the Christmas meal will provide leftovers that you can use for a week after the day. You may not need to do a full weekly shop on top of a Christmas meal. If finances are really a problem, look into eating out at a pub. Budget how much cooking your own Christmas dinner would cost compared to dining out. Not only may it save you money, it will also save you the kitchen stress.

Consider handmade decorations

For whatever reason, most of us keeping buying new Christmas decoration every year. If you already have a load from last year, including a tree, and you’ve hit hard times, don’t bother buying new items – use what you’ve got.

However, if for whatever reason you’ve lost most of last year’s decs, or this is your first Christmas in your own property, using last year’s adornments may not be possible. If this is the case, it’s time to get creative. Buy some glitter and paper and start making your own decorations – including paper chains and paper snowflakes. If you have kids, you can get them involved. This will work out a lot cheaper than tinsel and baubels and feel all the more personalised.

Sell gifts you don’t need after Christmas

Everyone gets gifts at Christmas that they don’t need. Either it’s a piece of clothing you’ll never wear, or an object you already have. Whilst it’s rude to admit it to the person giving you the present at the time, you shouldn’t have to cling onto it afterwards out of guilt. Sell these unnecessary items and make some money back.

Similarly, Christmas may clutter things up around the home. January may be a great time to declutter and get rid of all the things you don’t need. Of course, you shouldn’t just bin these surplus items. If you can make money out of any of it, do so. There are many online stores that take second-hand clothes and books – even damaged ones.

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