This article may not be in time for this Christmas but my advice is to bookmark it and come back to it in January 2012! Because, if like me, you are struggling with expenditures and are worrying about disappointing people on Christmas Day, you’d wish you had been a bit more organised or had set up a budgeting account months ago. But if we leave this Christmas and say – ‘That was a lesson in mistakes’ and move on to next year, how would we do things differently so that we can all actually enjoy giving presents and not be embarrassed about the little we have to give? Here are my tips for saving for Christmas.
Make a list of who you want to buy gifts for and how much you roughly want to spend on them to work out your budget for next year. Once you have this, say you want to spend £400 or £1200 for whom ever you are buying for, open an account that is strictly for Christmas and have £30 to £100 a month deposited into that account. This way you won’t be going into debt for Christmas. It will be very tempting to tap into that account so make sure it is security proof. Open the account in a town far away from you and do not have a debit card, cheque book or cheque guarantee card set up with it. Do not allow internet access or telephone access.
#2. Sell Unwanted Stuff
Go through your wardrobe or house and see if there is anything you can sell on Ebay, Etsy, or Amazon through the year and put that money in your paypal account. This way you are getting rid of the things that you don’t need anymore and then you are able to use your paypal account to shop online. When you go shopping for normal items like food and groceries, make a list and only shop for what you have on your list. This way you stay within budget, you only are buying what you need to be buying and you don’t buy things on impulse or because they are on special offer. Always shop with cash and leave the debit card and credit cards at home. You are less likely to overspend when you watch real money being spent.
#3. Look for Deals
Use comparison websites when you are looking to purchase larger items and always check out deals for online shopping and see if they will throw in free shipping. If you find a product you like, check it out Amazon or Ebay to see if they have what you want before you pay full price. It takes a little more time but it’s worth it. Do not go window shopping online, it’s too tempting. If you do, before you go to the checkout, take a break for ten minutes or more then come back to the page and see if you really need that item. If you hesitate chances are you don’t really want it.
#4. Go Secondhand
Try out local car boot sales in the summer and charity shops in the winter, you’ll find some amazing bargains and not everything is secondhand! During the holidays people are getting rid of a lot, they are either getting rid of toys to make room for new or they are selling stuff in order to buy Christmas. But, stay away from payday loans or pawn shops, their interest rates are ridiculous, and you will be paying on what ever you buy or borrow for a very long time. Instead, why not either pay a little extra every month on your utilities so that come November and December you don’t have any utilities to pay, which then frees up some more money for Christmas, or, set up that budget account and start saving for Christmas that way. If you start early you won’t have to worry about getting a payday loan near the end of December to tide you over.
Last word, if you simply do not have the money, let your family and friends know and give them IOU’s saying ‘Present coming next payday’ or something like that and invite them over for a cheap but thoughtful meal, one day over the Christmas period. They would hate to think that you have gotten yourself into debt for one day of the year.