The summer is over – saving for Christmas starts here! | Modern Mummy

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

The summer is over – saving for Christmas starts here!

Have you noticed how Christmas shopping seems to start a little bit earlier every year? While it’s tempting to start buying presents and decorations as soon as the shops are full of tinsel (i.e. now!), hold your horses. The sensible thing is to give yourself a break, spending wise, to get over the summer holidays first.

Here are 5 tips and tricks to give your spending habits an autumnal health check so you’re able to digest the your summer expenditures and be in the best possible financial situation come Christmas.

New season, new you 
With the start of the new academic year, September is the new January, don’t you know. New beginnings mean that now is the perfect time to take a long hard look at your lifestyle and make improvements.

Did you overindulge during the summer hols? Now is the time to ditch the drink, go on a diet, start a new health regime and commit to cooking healthier food for your family. None of this should cost you more, on the contrary. Not shopping for alcohol and cutting out restaurant visits, takeaways and ready meals should save you a ton of money.

The same goes for taking advantage of the glorious autumnal weather. Why not walk or cycle instead of taking the car or public transport? It’s fun to be outdoors, as well as healthier and cheaper, a win-win-win situation!

Back to school 
Resist the temptation to kit your little darlings out with new school stuff from top to bottom ready for the first day of term, and instead cast a critical eye over what’s actually needed. Do school shoes and uniform still fit? If so, there’s no need to upgrade just yet.

Many schools have second hand uniform sales that are a great way to save a bit of money on regulation schoolwear, and there’s always the opportunity to get together with other parents and swap uniform items that no longer fit their kids.

If you can be patient and wait for a few weeks past the beginning of term, you may well find ‘back to school’ prices for school bags, stationery and schoolwear dropping in the shops as retailers make space on the shelf for their Christmas goodies.

Finally, have you heard of the School Clothing Grant? It’s part of the Education Act 1980, with money available to families on low incomes to help manage their school costs. Find out more here.

A meaningful Christmas 
However much you may be looking forward to Christmas, the expense of it all can be quite daunting. But isn’t it up to you how you choose to do Christmas? What if you decided to tone down the commercial element and focus on what’s really important – spending time with your loved ones, or giving back to the community?

Why not take a look at how Christmas is celebrated in your family, and have an open and honest conversation about what changes everyone is prepared to make. For instance, if Christmas is essentially for the kids, do you really need to give presents to the other adults in the family? Perhaps the number of gifts could be pared down, or at least in part replaced with other things – home made items or promise vouchers?

There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate Christmas, and you may just find that by doing away with the punitive financial pressures of having to buy presents for everyone, you’re able to enjoy the festive season much more.

Saving for Christmas 
With the festive season approaching fast, the sooner you can set up a dedicated Christmas Fund and put money into it on a regular basis, the more likely you are to avoid the dreaded post-Christmas overdraft.

Start by making a list of everything that needs to be bought for Christmas: presents and wrapping paper, cards and decorations, the tree, food and drink, entertainment and going out etc, work parties and Secret Santa gifts, festive clothing, travel expenses etc and put an affordable budget against it.

Once you know the overall figure you need to get through Christmas without getting into debt, work on putting money aside every week to save up. Whether you open a savings account or literally put the money into a cash box is up to you, as long as the money stays there until you start your Christmas shopping, and don’t use the funds for anything else.

Early Christmas shopping 
While it’s a great idea to save up for Christmas, it’s equally financially responsible behaviour to start looking out for early Christmas bargains to make your budget stretch further. Do your research early online – there’ll be discounts in the run-up to Christmas that you can take advantage of, and don’t forget voucher codes too.

Take a look round the shops. Whatever is discounted in September of October may in fact be the perfect stocking filler or Christmas gift for a member of your family – and at reduced prices too. The same goes for festive food and drinks items. Why not stock up when prices are low? Or multibuy for even greater savings? As long as you purchase only what’s needed for the festive season, anything that makes your budget go further has to be a good thing.

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