If you’re big on Christmas (and let’s face it lots of us are) you may find yourself poor come January which is why I think it is important to discuss your Christmas budget within the family. Make sure you’re not poor in the bleak mid-winter because of your Christmas celebrations. If you set your limits and expectations early on it’s much more fun to have the Christmas you enjoy and still manage your spending. For most (awaits comments of ‘oh I get paid weekly’ or ‘I get paid every 7th leap year you’re leaving me out!”) people in the UK there are 3 more pay days left until Christmas. Yup September, October and November. That’s your lot. Can you budget your Christmas into those pay packets? As a starter, take time to understand how many extra hours you’ll be at home over the festive period and how much extra heating and food that equates too. Also work out how far you’ll be travelling and how much you want to budget per person for gifts.
Not only will you be spending on Christmas dinners and the like, you’re likely to be at home for far more hours than normal and let’s face it – this is the season of nibbles. Are you going to budget extra for the food now or are you going to be strict with yourself come December? What is the likelihood of you sticking to your strict regime? Do you need to budget for Quality Street slip ups?
How many people do you need/want to buy a gift for and what is the individual budget? Can you do a family secret santa? Can you opt for presents only for children? If you want to change the way your family as a whole give gifts then you need to get in early with your suggestion otherwise many people may have started their shopping. You might like to read my post entitled How to manage your family’s Christmas gift expectations.
Can you afford to send chunks of paper (and stamps) flying across the country and world? If not be honest (via email) with your loved ones and tell them that this year will be a card-free year. Just think of all those trees you’re saving?
What do you already have? Go and get it from the loft right now and do a mini inventory. Do the lights work? Is anything broken? Does it matter? Strangely enough a great many people get by with the same christmas decorations for years – only adding an odd bauble here and there across their many years of celebrations. You don’t need all new decorations or a new “theme” every year. Your theme is Christmas, there y’go. If you fancy going down the handmade route, Pinterest if your friend. I have a Thrifty Christmas Pinterest board along with a Thrifty Christmas Crafts board.
Booze can take up a significant portion of a Christmas budget and is often factored in at the last minute. If you enjoy a tipple think about stocking up in the run up to Christmas and checking out budget supermarkets. Aldi have a pretty decent bottle of gin and some award winning wines which I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at. Charitable donations Many people choose to donate to charity at Christmas and much like a glass or two of wine, these donations are often a last minute decision and can unexpected cost on to the Christmas bill. If you’re likely to donate – now is the time to decide who you would like to donate to and how much you can afford to donate. It is also worth remembering your time is often as valuable (or even more so) than cash, so if you have the time to spare perhaps you could volunteer over the Christmas?
Will you be using public transport to travel to visit relatives or to go shopping? Can you book the ticket in advance to make a saving? I talk about how to get cheap train tickets here.
If you’ll be driving more than your usual amount you’ll need to factor in the price of fuel to your Christmas budget. If you’re driving 70 miles to visit aunt Joan and 300 miles to visit your sister you’ll be spending a considerable amount on fuel.
Christmas features a great deal of parties and of course for many of us; late nights and alcohol consumption. Taxis will no doubt feature in the line up of your night on the tiles. Can you figure out how much this will cost? Wrapping paper and tape These may only cost a couple of pound here or there but can soon add up if you’re buying time and again. Do you already have a stash you can use? Can you make your own wrapping paper like I did here.
- School parties
- Work nights out
- Landline phone calls
Picture text messages (my friend sent a picture text to everyone she knew last Christmas without realising they weren’t included in her call plan – she had quite the shock when her bill rolled around in January). Extra utilities – additional use of lights, showers (Mr Thrifty showers at work so this could soon add up considering we’re on a water meter), kitchen, water and heating.