Ahh, lovely Christmas; the season of generosity and goodwill to all men (as well as women, children and even the occasional pet). Actually, children get quite a lot of the Christmas goodwill and it’s not cheap!
If you dread Christmas, and especially the financial hangover in January and February, then it’s time to take some control and not only find out more about making a sensible budget, but to come in under it this time!
It’s not impossible; here’s how it’s done.
Make your budget
However, rather than seeing it as a fuzzy line that you can stay reasonably close to as long as you don’t go too far over it, think of it as a limit. You need to see your budget in the same way as speed limits on the motorways are limits, not targets. Once you’re close to 70mph, you’re pushing your luck, so step off the gas!
Spread the budget out properly
Some people are going to get a bigger share of the budget than others and some Christmas expenses will, too. You can’t treat everyone equally, even though you may want to. You can’t spend the same amount on your kids’ teachers as you do on your sister because, well, you probably have more teachers than female siblings! You’re also not as close to them! Have a fiddle with your figures until you’ve covered everything, including gifts, food, travel, drinks and cards and you’re just at your maximum.
When you’re maxed out (in theory) start to make cuts
This doesn’t mean engineering an argument with your sister so you can cross her off your present list; it means look for ways to reduce lots of the costs by a little (or quite a bit if you’re lucky). See if you can buy the six members of teaching staff similar gifts from a BOGOF offer, or if you can dispense with bought gifts altogether and give them cookies or homemade cranberry sauce instead. Look for all the BOGOF and three-for-two offers you can find and exploit them!
Buy some gifts after Christmas
If you’re travelling to the in-laws on Boxing Day or the day after, then bag some post-Christmas bargains at the bigger chain stores, which now open on Boxing Day and offer some serious sales. Some don’t open until 12.00pm, though, so you might have to make some adjustments to your schedule (good luck with that…). It’s worth any extra aggro, though, because the Boxing Day discounts can be pretty big!
Don’t forget that Christmas happens every year!
Start thinking about next year as well! Those Boxing Day sales aren’t just for presents for the people you see in between Christmas and New Year, you know. There’s lots of opportunity to pick up essentials for the next Yuletide, like wrapping paper (which can be eye-wateringly expensive) and items that won’t date, like kitchen equipment and artworks.
Always look for the discounts
You can get some discounts before Boxing Day if you’re prepared to look for online voucher codes before every single online purchase. Before you know it, it’ll be a habit and you’ll be doing this all year round!