How To Take The Financial Pressure Off For Next Christmas
Gift lists as long as your arms travel to those distant relatives, the drinks at the office party, the new outfits, the decorations, the food and so much more. Christmas, without a doubt, is the most financially challenging time of the year and can bring about worry to many people. Once the big man in red has come and gone, and the event is over, you will probably look at your bank balance and feel a bit sorry for yourself – wondering how you will get through January without getting further into a muddle with money or missing bills, or borrowing money to get you until the end of the month when the next paycheck comes in. Here is how to make things a little easier on yourself:
Have a no-spend January
After a frivolous Christmas, a no spend month is a very sensible plan. Of course, for most of us, not spending anything is not an option – we have to buy food, pay for fuel to put in the cars and if we have kids – well, we all know that they need new school shoes or a new coat at the most inconvenient of times. However, a no-spend month is where you avoid spending money on anything unnecessary. Pay for your bills, food, travel and anything else that you simply can’t avoid, and then save the rest of the money. Instead of going on expensive days out, have a spa day at home, or a family film or board game evening. January is the perfect month to do this – the weather is often too rubbish to go out and do anything anyway, and it is a great excuse to close the curtains and hibernate under your duvets! You could also use the time to set a budget and plan for the year ahead. Any money that you manage to save can be used to pay off any debts that you accumulated over the Christmas period or pay any bills that slipped through the net. If your debts are a bit more ongoing than that, and you have multiple lines of credit, a loan might be the way forward, to consolidate everything into one payment. This can make everything a lot more manageable and reduce the interest you are paying to debt overall. You might be asking ‘are secured loans bad?’ but like all forms of credit, if you keep to the repayment terms, you will be fine.
Sell Anything That You Are No Longer Using
The average household has thousands in unused items. The time after Christmas is the perfect time to sell what you do not need since lots of new things are likely to have come into the home. Technology like laptops, tablets, and mobile phones can fetch a reasonable price, even if they are relatively old and outdated. Try places like eBay or use a website which buys used technology. Clothes, shoes, and other items can be sold at boot sales or even on local Facebook groups and Gumtree. Any money you raise is better than it sitting in drawers as unused items, collecting dust. Plus it allows someone else to get something that is new to them for a reasonable price, so it is a win-win for everyone.
Save the loose change.
Okay, so we have advised you to try to have a no-spend month, but as we said, we still have to pay for some necessities. Have a jar or a money box ready, and when you have any spare change left, from buying that carton of milk or from your bus fair, or whatever you have had to pay for, pop the change in there. Try to do this all year round, not just in January, and you will soon see it build up, ready to use next Christmas!
This is the digital equivalent of collecting your loose change. Get into the habit every week, or even every day if you are so inclined, of checking your bank account, and rounding the amount down. So, for example, if you have £21.67 in there, transfer 67p to your savings account. If you are feeling particularly flush or have a savings goal you want to reach, you could round it to the nearest five or even ten pounds! You won’t miss those little amounts coming out, but just like the loose change, it soon adds up to a significant amount that you can use towards next years Christmas!
Join loyalty programs
Many supermarkets and retailers offer loyalty programs, such as Tesco Clubcard points and the Sainsbury’s Nectar points. Sign up for them all and try to get into the routine of handing your card over when you shop in-store or putting your details in when you shop online. Do it every time you go shopping, and by the time next Christmas comes around, you may well have enough points to do your big food shop or pick up a few presents.
Plan for Christmas next year
You do not need to start saving right away (unless you want to, of course!) but plan, and be better organized for Christmas 2020. If you have found yourself in a bit of a mess financially, learn from this and know how to do it better next year. Maybe you could start saving and buying for Christmas earlier in the year to spread the cost better. Many people see the beginning of autumn as far too soon to be thinking about Christmas, but when you have a limited budget, it is an excellent time to start. If you start buying small items and non-perishable food items in around September, by December you should have a decent amount ready to go, and it will take the strain off.