With Christmas just around the corner, your mind is no doubt turning to how to pay for what is probably the most expensive season of the year. According to the Bank of England, we spend £500 more in December than we do any other month of the year. How, though, do you save up this extra money?
Create A Christmas Budget
It’s is incredibly easy to overspend at Christmas because it always seems like there is one more gift to buy. It’s harder to overspend when you create a budget and stick to it. Write down everyone you have to buy for and how much you want to spend on them, then add the food you’ll need to buy.
This will give you a clear idea of just how much you need to spend and how much you’ll need to save. If it’s more than you wanted to spend or can afford, revisit the budget and think about where you can cut costs.
Set Up A Savings Account
Just like for any other significant expense, you’re more likely to reach your savings goal by setting up a separate savings account. Find one with a decent interest rate, adding a bit more money to your Christmas fund.
Set-up a standing order so that the money goes directly into your savings account, reducing the chance of your spending it before Christmas.
Join A Christmas Club
Christmas clubs are a great way to save for Christmas, although you won’t earn interest like a regular savings account. Ask if your employer or any local shops or community groups run clubs; if they don’t, see if you could get together your own group. With Christmas clubs you save a small amount every week and receive the money in November; remember, your money is locked in, and you can’t take it out early.
Some shops run clubs but payback in vouchers or gift cards, which may not be what you want, so check this before you sign-up.
Take Care Of The Pennies
The saying ‘take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves’ couldn’t be truer when it comes to saving for big days such as Christmas. Think about setting yourself the Penny a Day challenge on the first of the year and you could be around £600 better off by the time Christmas rolls around. The way the challenge works is that you put a penny in a jar on day one, two pennies on day two and so on until you are putting away £3.65 on the final day. The idea is you don’t miss such small amounts, so saving is easier.
If you don’t fancy doing a challenge, don’t discount the idea of putting spare change in a jar; the money will rack up more quickly than you think.
Earn Extra Money
If cutting the budget doesn’t work, you might want to think about earning extra money to pay for Christmas. If you work part-time, this might mean asking for more hours at work, or taking on overtime if you work full-time. If extra hours aren’t available, or you don’t work, look for ways to earn extra cash such as online surveys, which could bring you in a few hundred pounds a year or more if you can spare the time. You could also consider selling at craft fairs if you are creative or selling unwanted items through sites such as eBay to bring in extra money.
If you enjoy shopping online, earn cashback by going through cashback sites such as Quidco, which pay anything from a few pence to several pounds for every item you purchase by linking to a website through them. Look for cashback credit cards too, where you earn money on every purchase.
Not all cashback comes as cash. Pick sites that allow you to cash out your earnings as ‘real’ money, not vouchers; if you have to accept vouchers, make sure they are for shops you would buy from.
In the run-up to Christmas, think a bit more carefully about how you spend your money. When you go to the grocery store, take a list and stick to it, avoiding impulse buys. Moreover, if you see something you like, unless you absolutely need it, think about asking for it as a Christmas present instead. This saves you money and makes it easier for your friends and family to choose what to buy you for Christmas.