Top tips to save money over the holidays
Last updated on 13th December, 2017 at 10:02 am
Make sure January doesn’t feel like the month that never ends by following these tips to enjoy the festive season sensibly.
Drawing up a budget to determine what you can spend on entertainment, presents and other items is the first step. Stick to this if you want to remain in control of your finances. Make sure you understand how much money you really have to spend this holiday season. Have your bank statements at hand and be honest about what you’ll have left after your regular monthly expenses. And don’t cheat by including how much you expect to get from a 13th cheque or annual bonus – if you are lucky enough to get a bonus, see it as just that, not a guaranteed way to get through the month. List all your expected holiday expenses, such as accommodation, entertainment, gifts and extra fuel; then be certain you have the money for all of this. If there’s a shortfall, decide where to scale back.
Data indicates that the biggest problem over the festive season is the flagrant use of credit. Every January, applications for debt management and debt consolidation options increase dramatically. This indicates that local consumers are relying on plastic to get through the festive season, particularly when it comes to buying gifts. In the run-up to Christmas, be wary of deals that entice you to buy on credit. Don’t get distracted by ‘no deposit’ offers as these can often end up costing you far more in interest repayments over the longer term. It may make you feel better for a short while to splash out on feel-good gifts for your family, but remember that you’ll be left with a high price to pay at the end of it. If you fail to keep up with your repayments, you could lose your most valuable assets, including your home and car.
When buying gifts, keep to your spending limits with the ‘envelope strategy’. Decide with your partner and family members how much you will spend on specific budget items (like gifts and entertainment). Draw that money in cash and put the exact amount into sealed envelopes. No plastic, no extra cash, just the maximum amount you are prepared to spend. This should go a long way to ensuring you stick to the budget. When you go shopping for presents, go with nothing more than the envelopes. A convenient side effect of creating a ceiling on how much you are prepared to spend is that you’ll suddenly find it easier to shop for your gifts – you can’t be tempted into spending more than you bargained for and so your options become limited.
Saving for January
Overspending in December wouldn’t be that much of an issue if January weren’t such an expensive month. Consumers often forget that they still have to pay household accounts, such as lights and water, in the next year, and will need to pay for other costs such as uniforms and school fees. Begin setting aside money for all the additional start-of-the-year expenses early in the previous year.
Food prices at holiday destinations can be expensive and the price of meat usually shoots up during December. Try to plan your menus before you go on holiday, taking potentially expensive non-perishable items and frozen meat with you.
Car trouble over December will wreck your budget. Service your car before you go on holiday.
Don’t take a holiday from your problems
If you have a problem with debt, don’t put off dealing with it until the New Year. Speak to your bank and negotiate a repayment schedule or talk to a debt counsellor and see if they can help you.
Start planning for December 2016
The best way to ensure that you won’t overspend in the festive season is by saving for it. Use a monthly debit order to put away an amount to use for end-of-the-year expenses. Booking and paying for your holiday early in the year will also be cheaper, and stock up on Christmas gifts throughout the year at sales.
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