Woman in santa hat holding piggybank

Christmas Budget Bootcamp

DEAR SANTA…How can I have a great Christmas without the New Year debt hangover?

Last year, half of all shoppers borrowed an average £300 in search of a happy Christmas. But with high interest loan companies tempting us with ready cash, it’s time to think ahead and plan for a pain-free festive season.

DO:

  • Set a budget you’ll stick to. The best goal is one you can save for to avoid going into the red. Write down that goal and keep it somewhere that you’ll see it all the time, like the fridge!
  • List everyone you want to buy for and ask ‘Do they expect something expensive?’ Talk to adults about only buying for the kids or agree a limit to spend on each other. What matters more might be getting together and having a good time. Save on gifts and splash out on cheaper treats to make parties swing.
  • Save. It’s not too late if you haven’t started already. Cutting out a couple of pints, a packet of fags or a five pound treat each week will net £50.
  • Shop around. Make a list of what you’re going to buy people and see where it’s on offer the cheapest. People who are online at this time of year will save themselves the most.
  • Check out Christmas schemes run by supermarkets and even ways to use loyalty points to take the sting out of Christmas.

DON’T

  • Don’t sign up to a savings scheme where you can’t shop around at the end. We checked gifts offered by Park Christmas Savings, for example, and found that gift option are now restricted to tokens or vouchers.
  • Don’t exceed the budget you set. Write down everything you spend on presents and try not to pick up extra titbits when you see them. Every little doesn’t help in
    this case.
  • Keep your Christmas savings separate from other savings. Watch it grow and don’t dip into it for something like a holiday – save for that separately too.
  • Don’t be afraid to get advice on ways to make your savings grow but check the adviser doesn’t charge. There’s free advice online or a bank or credit union can often help.
  • Don’t tie up savings where you can’t get at them. Higher interest accounts may mean you must give proper notice to avoid penalties. Check the small print.

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