12 Money Tips This Christmas
With the shorter days and colder weather setting in, people’s focus is starting to shift to Christmas.
Managing your money over this festive period can be a challenge for most of us.
Last year, the average UK family budgeted £350 for their Christmas food, presents, or decorations. Yet nearly two-thirds of us spent up to £250 over our festive budget (Money Advice Service, 2021).
So we’ve shared our best money tips to help you make the most of your money this Christmas.
Making a budget, checking it twice (or more!)
First, decide how much you want to spend. Next, decide who you’ll be buying gifts for this year and assign a pound value to each person. Lastly, stick to your budget and check it more than twice. A budget is only as useful as your commitment to it, so tracking your budget needs to be an ongoing habit you develop.
Start saving, it’s never too late
In a perfect world you start saving for Christmas in January. But let’s be honest, few people are that organised.
However, even if you leave it to the last minute, there are steps you can take to limit the hefty bill you’re worried about facing in the New Year. Consider switching to your supermarket’s own brand for essentials like bread and cereal. Or even swap supermarkets altogether – Lidl and Aldi offer great value. You can also clear out old and unused items and sell them on eBay.
If you become a member of our credit union, you’re encouraged to save regularly so you’ll be prepared for Christmas next year and have less money worries.
Make use of free delivery
A lot of retailers do free delivery to their store if you’re willing to pick it up. You could use the same shop for multiple people’s presents, so that you only make the journey in the cold to collect it once. Obviously adhere to your local Covid-19 guidelines regarding visiting shops.
Bulk buying can also give you free delivery to your home if you spend over a minimum amount. E.g. Amazon – £20, Very.co.uk – £30, ASOS – £35, and John Lewis – £50. Signing up to become a member of online retailers often unlocks free delivery with no minimum spend.
You also want to make sure your food deliveries arrive in time for your family catch ups. Check some of the supermarket delivery times and plan ahead.
Think about Santa-mental gifts
Have an honest chat with your friends and family to decide whether it’s necessary to buy each other gifts this year. For those that you do decide to gift, put a little thought into it and buy something small that has sentimental value to them.
Maybe it reminds them of a past event, an inside joke between the two of you, or just oozes their sense of humour. A little thought goes a long way.
Focus on moments rather than presents
Your fondest Christmas memories growing up are probably not unwrapping the latest Action Man or My Little Pony. Instead, it’s that laugh you all had when Dad danced in his colourful new socks; that moment when the girls beat the boys during a family game of scrabble; or when Granny baked cherry almond shortbread cookies and you devoured them watching a film together.
So save money this Christmas by being intentional about spending time together – whether that’s in person or virtually. Value experiences over accessories and conversations over clutter.
Pro tip: if you’re playing a game with friends or family over a video call, hit the record button. When you watch back the video in the future, you’ll enjoy all the funny moments and facial expressions you missed during the game.
Take advantage of Black Friday deals
Put Black Friday (26th November 2021) and Cyber Monday (29th November 2021) in your diary. This is a chance to pick up some big bargains.
A lot of the deals will likely be online this year so shop around and try to get the biggest bang for your buck. But there’s a caveat to this: don’t buy something you didn’t need just because it was discounted. You want to be a savvy opportunist not a shopaholic.
Keep it local with your work night out
Your Christmas night out with work colleagues can be one of the highlights on your social calendar. Why not support a local pub this year rather than the city centre? This helps to support small businesses hard-hit by the pandemic.
Local pubs also mean less money spent on a taxi/bus and can often serve cheaper drinks than in town.
Be frugal by using membership discounts
If you sign up to memberships or email lists with companies you can sometimes get around 10% discount for your Christmas shopping. The downside, of course, is the spam in your inbox. So create a dummy email account for all of these and you’ll avoid getting buried under a pile of snow spam.
Family traditions > gifts
We don’t know about you, but when we think back on our Christmas’ as a child it isn’t the gifts that first come to mind, it is the Christmas traditions. Leaving cookies out for Santa, finding and cutting down a Christmas tree, listening to Christmas music and so many more.
As well as being more memorable, these family traditions are often more affordable. So be creative and plan a new or old tradition this year for your friends and family to enjoy.
Avoid gift cards
With the uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the economic pressure on businesses, buying gift cards is risky. If the company goes bust there’s no guarantee the voucher is valid or accepted.
A safer alternative is to transfer them money which they can use however they like. Cash has a stigma around it being a ‘boring gift’. But it’s safer and more flexible so gifting it could be the smarter financial decision.
Zero spend day
On the lead up to Christmas, choose one day a week where you don’t spend a penny. This will encourage you to develop several positive habits: planning ahead to make sure you have food available, budgeting to ensure you’re in control of your outgoings, and delaying gratification which will control your impulse to buy.
We’re bombarded with advertisements everywhere we look trying to entice us to purchase. Having one day a week when you make a commitment to not spend any money will empower you. You’ll also be shocked with how much money you save.
Give the gift of charity
The traditional spirit of Christmas is about giving and generosity. It’s easy to forget this in our materialistic world where we feel obligated to give gifts tit-for-tat.
Instead, give a gift to charity in your loved one’s name. This way you know your money is paying for something useful.
You can donate to our new CCU Grove which will help Trees for Life plant more trees in the Scottish Highlands to create homes for wildlife and forests for the future. Just share the email receipt of the donation with person your gifting.
Or buy a Shelter Scotland gift card to support the homeless who struggle during the cold winter. Alternatively, you can help patients with cancer by sending your family a Macmillan card and make a donation in their name.
So give these 12 tips a try and see how much you can save for Christmas. If you’re running out of time and feel you want to borrow, then our ethical loans could help make the festive season more affordable.