It’s certainly no secret that Christmas doesn’t come cheap for many in the UK. From the dinner and crackers to presents and parties, Christmas is often one of the most expensive events of the year. And, believe it or not, Christmas isn’t far away at all and it will soon be here before you know it. So, if you haven’t already started, now might be a good time to start putting money away for the big day. Take a look at this post from Mr Lender to find out just how much you’re going to need to save each week, how to cut your Christmas budget, and how you can start saving early.
The cost of Christmas
The first step to getting ready for Christmas is to set a budget. When it comes to creating a budget, it’s best to make sure it’s manageable and doesn’t include more than you can afford. It’s also important for you to take into account each and every part of Christmas to avoid being caught short at the last minute.
According to reports by the BBC and the Telegraph, the cost of Christmas for a family of six (including the dinner, crackers and presents) is on average £548.98 – and with 20 weeks to go until Christmas*, that’s £27.45 per week.
You will also need to consider the cost of Christmas decorations too, which can vary depending on how festive and extravagant you’re willing to go. Another expense to think about is the special Christmas treats. It can be so simple to splurge at Christmas and splash out on boxes of chocolates, sweets, crisps and biscuits, and to veg on the sofa watching Christmas classics back to back. If you tend to go a little overboard around Christmas time, consider cutting back on the amount of sweets you’re buying to save a little money.
Saving for Christmas
When it comes to working out your budget for Christmas this year, you should also work out how much you’re willing to spend on each person. If you’re on quite a tight budget, you might also want to be quite brutal and think about how you can cut back on your Christmas list. Think about whether you still need to be buying presents for your old school friends’ children who you haven’t seen for years, or whether you can save money by buying smaller, less expensive gifts for distant relatives. If you’re on quite a tight budget, consider talking to your partner and agreeing on a limit for how much you’re going to spend on each other too.
Cut back on your present budget
Besides giving your Christmas list a little trim, there are lots of other ways you can save money on your Christmas presents this year. One way to save money is to do a Secret Santa. Instead of buying lots of presents for your friends and family, agree to do a Secret Santa instead. Simply write everyone’s names onto small pieces of paper before folding and putting them in a bowl. Then, let everyone pick a name from the bowl at random – the name they choose is the person they have to buy a present for. Agree to a budget which is affordable for everyone, then start buying! To make the Secret Santa a ‘secret’, it’s important to not tell anyone else whose name you’ve picked from the bowl.
Another way to save money on your Christmas present budget is to make a pick and mix jar for your significant other. Reports show us Brits tend to spend the most money at Christmas on our partners. So to cut a significant amount from your Christmas budget this year, put together a pick and mix jar. Start by writing notes on small slips of paper, before folding them up and putting them in a jar. Your notes should include simple little luxuries such as running a bubble bath or cooking dinner for a week – lots of free things which you can do for each other. Then, when one of you is feeling a little blue, or you simply want to put a smile on the other’s face, you can take a note from the pick and mix jar. This is just one simple gift which will keep on giving for months to come – and doesn’t cost a penny.
Dec the halls
As mentioned earlier, you will need to take the cost of Christmas decorations into consideration when it comes to putting your budget together. The amount you spend on decorations is entirely up to you, and can cost as much or as little as you like. If you’re looking to save a little money on your Christmas decorations this year, start by thinking about the most important decoration of them all – the tree. While a real fir tree is wonderful and really adds to the Christmas spirit, you could save lots of money by opting for an artificial one instead. By investing in a good tree, you will save yourself money for years to come. The best time to buy your tree is in the Boxing Day sales – lots of retailers will have huge discounts on their Christmas trees, and you can certainly save yourself plenty of money by buying early.
The festive feast
Another huge expense at Christmas time is the dinner. If you often find yourself cooking dinner for the entire family on Christmas Day, the costs can soon add up. Instead of trying to save enough to fund the feast yourself, simply ask your guests to bring a dish each. Before you know it you could halve your dinner budget, and have enough money spare to put towards something else.
Christmas savings clubs
Once you’ve worked out a manageable budget and found ways to cut costs, you can begin your saving. Earlier on we noted the average Brit spends around £550 on Christmas each year for a family of six – this works out to just under £30 a week if you start saving now. If you tend to find saving money a breeze, you could certainly put away £30 into a bank account or money box and be ready in time for Christmas.
However if saving doesn’t come quite so easy to you, you may want to look into a Christmas savings club. This is essentially a savings account specifically used for building a Christmas fund. There are lots of savings clubs available, and each will have its own perks – so make sure you look at the ins and outs of a club before handing over your money.
If you do decide to start saving with a Christmas club, it works best if you can start putting money away as early as possible. You won’t earn any interest on the money you put into a savings club, however you will gain access to the money you’ve saved a few weeks before Christmas – so the earlier you start saving, the more you’ll have in your fund.
There are a few things to consider before deciding to use a savings club. The first thing to consider is that you won’t have access to the money you’ve saved until a few weeks before Christmas. While this is a benefit of the scheme in many ways, it can be problematic if you find yourself short of cash one month. It can also be a disadvantage if you want to start your Christmas shopping early to avoid any rushing around at the last minute, or missing out on limited time offers.
Another thing you will need to look into before settling for a savings club is that some clubs will give you your money back in the form of vouchers – meaning you can’t always spend your money where you want to. Also, if the club goes out of business while you’re saving with them, you run the risk of losing your money.
Saving for Christmas
While Christmas may seem far off and nowhere near the top of your list of priorities at the moment, it will be here far sooner than you think. If you can’t afford to start putting money away just yet, begin planning by putting together a budget and your Christmas list now – that way you’ll be ready and prepared for when you do begin to save.
* Correct as of 4th August 2017.