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How to plan ahead and reduce the cost of Christmas

Christmas is an expensive time of year, but it really shouldn’t leave you in the red. By planning ahead and setting some ground rules, you won’t have to start 2019 struggling to make ends meet.

So with eight weeks to go until the big day – we know, we know, it’s only October. Should we really be mentioning the ‘C’ word? – it really does pay to plan early to avoid overspending or getting into financial difficulty this festive period. And this is why.

A survey undertaken in January this year found that 7.9 million of us Brits – that’s 16% of the population – thought they’d be likely to fall behind with their finances after spending too much last Christmas. Worryingly, it was 11% up on the previous year.

The poll of more than 2,000 British adults also found that over half of those questioned said that they hadn’t planned ahead and saved up for Christmas before December arrived. Only a super-organised 14% said they started saving up for extra Christmas costs before last summer.

So, if you want to take a savvier approach to Christmas spending, take a look at these handy hints to planning ahead and cutting costs. By taking on board just a couple, Christmas will be even merrier and the New Year happier by not racking up debts buying things that none really needs nor can really afford.

#1 Work out how much spending money you will have left each week or month after essential outgoings.

Then transfer what’s left out of your main bank account and into another with a separate debit or pre-paid card. They can be used in the same places that credit or debit cards are accepted but you can’t spend money that you don’t have. They’re a great way to retrain yourself to spend responsibly as well as determining if it’s really a necessary purchase.

They also help tremendously when budgeting and planning. Our customers often come to us after having lost track of when payments leave their accounts at various times during the month. This way, you can only spend what you have.”

#2 If you’re tempted to spend on a non-essential that you can’t really afford, work out how many hours it would take you to earn that money.

Whether that’s a gift or evening out, ask yourself is it worth it? Do you – or indeed your family and friends – really need it?”

#3 Plan ahead and put aside whatever you can afford each day.

It’s amazing how these daily £1 or £2 coins add up. Doing so far enough in advance means that the cost of Christmas can be easily carried across the course of the year as the extra expense tends not to be noticed and it soon accumulates.”

#4 Look in to any savings schemes or loyalty cards that are offered by your supermarket.

Some allow shoppers to load money onto the card to help spread the cost of Christmas – even adding on bonus money when monetary milestones are met – whilst other stores partner with the likes of Argos, Pizza Express and Odeon Cinema. It really helps with the cost of Christmas catering, gift buying and going out.”

#5 Again, plan ahead and when doing your weekly food shop, buy an extra item or two that you know you’ll need for the festive season.

Store them somewhere out of the way and, when Christmas comes, the cost many of the got-to-haves – and indeed little treats – will be already covered. Just make sure you check the use-by date before you buy.

#6 Talking to family and agree not to buy presents for some people.

The easiest approach is to buy just for the children and very close family.

#7 Similarly, consider a Secret Santa with friends or colleagues.

This way, you’ll only need to buy one gift each.