Whether you are making Christmas a low-key affair this year or still going all out despite the possible limitations of a pandemic, it’s a well-known fact that Christmas involves a lot of planning. Though the main purpose of this article is to help you gain control of your finances during a time of year when all that we as consumers do is spend, a lot of what I will mention can be applied to any part of your life at any time (not just Christmas), since most of it comes down to organisation and planning.
The first and probably most important rule of budgeting for anything is to grab a pen and some paper, or even the notes app on your phone and make lists. Personally, lists are something that I live by – to the point that if you walked into my room you would find many post-it notes with numerous and endless to-do lists. Even my phone is filled with hundreds of things in the notes app that need to be deleted. Do they always help? Possibly not, due to my own procrastination, but when it comes to budgeting there is nothing I could recommend more. Budgeting with lists especially around Christmas is something I’ve been doing these past few years and has worked for me without fail, keeping me on track with my spending since I would tick things off as I bought them. When used in combination with an online banking app, it makes sure that you don’t go over your limits or get carried away with Christmas shopping – my weaknesses are always the cute little stocking fillers that add up to way too much.
If you are struggling with setting specific limits then simply create a rough outline of how much you would like to spend on each person’s gifts. If you’re worried about going over your limit, then either go back to your initial planning stage and try to make some small cuts or add a sort of financial cushion to the end of your list which could be used to cover costs for any extras (whether it’s a gift for the dog or some new Christmas décor for the house).
Another tip would be to start planning and buying anything Christmas related as early as possible to prevent it from getting too chaotic later on, but if you only start thinking about Christmas once it gets to December like me, then there’s still hope! You may have had a look at the many online sales that have been going on recently as part of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, especially since stores have been shut during the lockdown, but if you’re still missing some Christmas gifts for others, you should take advantage of the offers and discounts that most stores should continue having over the next week.
It’s not a surprise that this year might be one of the roughest Christmases because of the economic downturn as well as the devastating effects of COVID on the health of many of our loved ones, so equally it’s no surprise that we might not be so well prepared for Christmas this year. But if you want to ensure a decent budget for next year then it’s never too early to start saving, so perhaps start a specific savings account dedicated to next year’s Christmas shop? Nowadays it’s something that can be done in as little as ten minutes on most online banking apps – but make sure to research which options are best for you.