We’ve all done it… spend almost double of our Christmas money allocation and been left thoroughly in the crapper when it comes to paying our bills and starting our new year with an all-new sale-bought wardrobe.
Christmas, ultimately, costs dollar. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning carefully and thinking presents through or not – there are nearly always unexpected costs, impulse buys or cocktail hours, new shoes or those extra three rolls of wrapping paper to think about. But fear not – now that we’re in peak the present buying period (apart from Christmas Eve maybe), I’m here to share a few of my favourite tidbits about sticking to your Xmas budget.
Budget for yourself too
It’s so easy to ration out your November paycheck to your 5 nearest and dearest – but what about you? Not only will you probably need a few new bits here and there, but you deserve some Christmas presents for yourself! I distinctly remember a few years ago when I treated myself to a few Limited Edition NARS bits. On Christmas day I unwrapped them (yes, I wrapped them up and wrote “From Me, To Me”) and loved it – completely worth the indulgence.
Whether it’s a basket full of LUSH bits, that new slogan jumper or a hairdresser’s appointment – make sure you’ve allowed yourself a little (or big) something. We all know we’ll splash out on a treat anyway, so be safe and plan it from the start.
Allow a little wiggle room
I’m that person who runs out a few days before Christmas and drops another £50 on bits that I’m sure I need. Little things like chocolate, festive present toppers and LUSH Christmas bath bombs can blow a budget straight out of the water.
The best way to combat those unspoken for expenses is to tag a little wiggle room onto every person you’re buying for (including yourself). Upping each allocation by £5-£10 means that you’re more prepared to drop £20 on chocolate an hour before the shops shut and means you don’t have to feel guilty for spending a bit more here and there. Ridgid budgets nearly always get broken, so start defining budgets by scale (like £30-£50 or £3-£8) and feel more in control.
If you love to buy your parent’s or best friend everything you think they might like just a little, then be realistic about your budget for them. Limiting yourself to £50 just because that’s what everyone else is getting is pointless if you know you’ll cheat and buy them bits here and there.
Get realistic about what you can spend too. We’ve all been in the position where we can’t buy anyone what we feel they really deserve – but no Christmas present is worth indebting yourself for. If you’re struggling to spend the big buck, opt for personalised or handmade gifts, experiences that can be paid for closer to the time, or the age-old present of a happy picture in a pretty frame.
Focus on need
Believe it or not – the shops try to flog us stuff that is absolutely useless. Just because that bumper book of jokes is on offer, it doesn’t mean you have to buy it. I always get overwhelmed when Christmas shopping because if I think hard enough everything could be given as a gift – but does anyone really need another bumper book of jokes?
When planning presents, focussing on need is always going to help you stick to your budget. It also helps your friends and family not fill their homes up with useless junk. It’s much more heart-warming to see someone use and love and present (even if it seemed a bit boring) than to see it gathering dust on the shelf come spring time. Trust me, because I’ve been there.
Keep your receipts
Okay, not the most glamorous of tips – but it can make the world of difference. Whether you change your mind about a present or want to keep a close eye on how many pennies you’ve been spending on what, receipts are your best friend.
Earn Christmas money
Finally, one of my favourite ways to keep in budget and not feel as if my financial situation is spinning out of control is to earn some Christmas specific money. See, the thought of an entire pay packet going on Christmas is a scary one, but unfortunately not uncommon if you’re as unorganised as me.
Bringing some money in by selling old goods, pulling a few extra shifts or making use of your freelancing skills makes that extra dollar feel like money made for Christmas. For me this makes me feel unbelievably less guilty about dropping serious cash on things around Christmas.
Do you struggle to stick to your budget around the festive season? Let me know in the comments and feel free to share your own budget-keeping tips.
Did you know that I’m doing Blogmas this year? Check out my other festive posts right here.