Portrait of a young beautiful businesswoman who wearing santa hat and looks with sadness at empty wallet

Christmas Bills are Ringing

I’m wondering if you have any advice on how to keep my spending down this Christmas? With presents and food plus travel to parties and get-togethers, I feel I’m spending more and more every year. Michelle T, Portsmouth

Penny says: Hi there Michelle,

Christmas sure has a habit of creeping on you doesn’t it? The smartest way to deal with Christmas of course is to put a little by each week throughout the year. With the average family spending an extra £850 on Christmas, finding that sort of dosh down the back of the sofa can be a challenge.

One of my clients a single mum, is brilliantly organised and buys a couple of pressies each week throughout the year until all her shopping is done by mid-December. But hey, we are not all that organised, so if you’ve left it too late for this year the next best things you can do is ‘make a plan’. If you write a list of all the things you are going to have to pay for and put a financial limit on each, this will mean at least your spending will be planned and controlled. Random purchases on the plastic with no thought or planning, can quickly run into one hell of a debt hangover in the new year. I am expecting the Pennysmart team to be busy in 2019!

Talk to your friends and family, agree spending limits for this year, or just agree to buy for the children. As for your party outfits, checkout internet sites such as ebay for some amazing brand new labelled brand clothes, I’ve had some great designer buys myself this year for just a few pounds (often cheaper than charity shops). Then don’t be afraid to say no to some things, often if friends and family are feeling the pinch they may be grateful for you being brave enough to say it.

So to sum up:

  • Draw up a Xmas budget (make sure you can afford it)
  • If you have to borrow, do it as cheaply as you can (e.g. 0% or use your credit union)
  • Agree limits to present buying and offer to split the cost of food and drinks for family gatherings.
  • Remember when we all look back at our childhoods it’s not usually the presents we remember it’s the relationships, people and experiences that stay with us.

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