Snow isn’t falling all around us quite yet, but the Christmas ads have started popping up. And perhaps that sinking feeling has too: The panic of having to buy all those presents, who gets what, Christmas decorations, all the food – and breathe!
Don’t panic. We know Christmas can be overwhelming. With members already feeling the pinch of rising costs, it’s concerning that consumer debt saw it’s sharpest spike since 2006 in the run-up to Christmas last year*.
So we’ve put together a few tips to help you save during 2016’s festive season. It’s not much but we hope it helps.
1. Avoid the temptation to bung it all on your credit card
This is how best-laid plans spiral. Plus, you’re likely to get hit by interest and fees since you can ignore the bill until January. It’s best to pay by cash. Or use a ‘prepaid card’ that’s loaded with a designated sum so you don’t get carried away.
The UNISON Prepaid Plus Card even offers cash back from a wide range of retailers, including Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Boots.
2. Write a budget and stick to it
Work out how much money you have to spend after bills and start budgeting. Only spend how much you can afford. Write a list of your expenses, including:
- list of people you are buying gifts for and a budget for each present;
- food and drinks for family dinners;
- travel plans – train tickets etc;
- cards and postage;
- parties – new outfits, spending money.
3. Avoid impulse buying.
You may see things on offer and be tempted, but think about whether it’s worth it and fits in with your budget. Also, things may be cheaper online – it’s worth checking.
Be careful what time of day you shop – you’re more likely to make impulse purchases on your lunch break or after work, where you have to make a quick decision you might regret.
4. Look at where you can save
Stick to one present per person and no little extra ones where the cost can add up.
If you are travelling home by train, buy your tickets in advance.
Send e-Christmas cards and save on postage.
Wear party outfits you already own with different accessories.
5. Make your own presents
With all the good Christmas telly, there’s no excuse not to get creative in front of Strictly!
You might be worried naff homemade presents will leave you looking like a cheapskate, but there’s so many blogs full of ideas for professional looking gifts. Plus people will be touched by the effort you’ve put in.
UNISON Living is here to help you get the most from your free time, which includes helping you manage your finances.
We work with a wide range of trusted suppliers to make sure you’re not spending more than you need – from financial advice to exclusive discounts on insurance. Find out more
*According to figures published by the Bank of England reported in the The Guardian