Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas.

It’s that time of year again! The time for giving and celebrating with loved ones, but for many, it’s also when our mind slips into somewhat of a panic as we begin the task of planning for the Christmas period.

Many people find it challenging to find time amongst the rest of their daily activities. The Christmas period adds to this with the additional sorting of social activity, planning a break or holiday, sorting food for Christmas lunch, presents for the family, all whilst figuring out how to make it all happen financially. Stressed yet?

Christmas time is when you need to take the most care with budgeting and planning.  It can be easy to get caught up in the sales and hype and purchase items and goods that are not required or that are beyond our financial means. Combine this with the ease of access to online shopping (Black Friday sales anyone?) as well as the advent of buy now/pay later schemes and the new year may be spent up to the eyeballs in debt.

How do you best deal with all this pressure?

The key is prior planning.  Not all of us have been putting money aside through the year, so of course, everyone’s budget will be different. Here are some quick tips;

  • Don’t fall for marketing. Too often, we pay too much or purchase something we don’t need. Plan out what you want and know the correct price. It’s amazing how many ‘sales’ are not actually sales at all, with prices that are usually available at another retailer throughout the year.
  • Shopping for Christmas lunch has the same rules as for a normal shop. Know what you need in advance, pre-ordering goods in high demand can often be cheaper and ensures you aren’t disappointed come Christmas Eve. Don’t go to the shops hungry or you are bound to have a few more purchases than needed.
  • Drop the pressure in buying presents. A heartfelt present will always beat the biggest present. Each person that gets a present from you is special and the gift can reflect that, but a budget is a budget, and a sensible choice of gift is required.

When it comes to budgets, think in buckets. This might be;

  • Bucket 1 – Gifts – don’t forget some of the less obvious ones (teachers, Secret Santa, charities, etc.)
  • Bucket 2 – Food and Drinks.
  • Bucket 3 – Travel – at home or away? This can be a big factor in how much goes into other buckets.
  • Bucket 4 – Social Events – work parties, parties with friends, they all have a cost.

I previously mentioned Buy Now/Pay Later and of course credit cards.  Some debt can be fine, but you need to know what you can afford.  Plan repayments accordingly to erase any debt incurred as quick as possible. Failure to do so can incur high interest rates.

Finally, the best tip is to write everything down and keep track of purchases made.

  • Have a shopping list when you go to the supermarket.
  • Write each person’s name to get a present and what to buy.
  • Keep receipts (and make a copy). Sometimes presents can be double-ups or the wrong size and without the receipt, there is no proof of purchase for a refund.

Prior planning can help you to look forward to the festive period and enjoy the presence of those around you.  The New Year can be a period free from financial worry but it does take some planning to achieve.

Please note this article provides general advice only and has not taken your personal, business or financial circumstances into consideration. If you would like more tailored advice, please contact us today.