Take the stress out of saving for Christmas
WITH LESS THAN 100 DAYS TO GO, IT’S TIME TO MENTION THE C-WORD. MONEY EXPERT WARREN SHUTE OFFERS HIS TIPS ON HOW TO SAVE FOR THE FESTIVE SEASON
WHISPER it, we are already in the last quarter of the year, and the decorations will no doubt be on the shelves soon. The cost of Christmas can be a real strain, but by planning ahead you can take the stress out of your festive finances. Here are my tips.
IT’S ONLY A DAY
EVERY year we’re bombarded by months of adverts and promotions in the shops and online.
Amid the madness, remember: Christmas is just one day out of 365. Don’t spoil 2020 by starting out in debt for the sake of 24 hours!
GET financially organised using my bank account system:
■ Set up two accounts: one for bills and another for personal spending.
■ Arrange ALL your regular payments, standing orders and direct debits to come out of your bills account – which is also where you keep your incoming money. Go through each payment and ask yourself three things: Do I need this; do I want this, and can I get a similar experience for less? You might be surprised at how much you can save.
■ Put some WAM into your life! WAM is your weekly Walkabout Money, and it pays for all your variable spending and fun: beer, coffee, haircuts and so on. Work out how much you want (or have) to spend in a month after your outgoings, divide it by four, and you’ll get your weekly WAM.
■ Set up a weekly payment for this amount from your bills account to your WAM account. Make it happen on a Wednesday, because then you don’t have too long to wait after the weekend, which is when most of us spend our cash.
■ Your WAM is your weekly allowance; it’s finite. DON’T dip into your bills account for more, or use credit cards if it runs out, it’s not too long to wait for the next Wednesday to come around!
NO SPEND OCTOBER
IF DECEMBER is an expensive month for you, why not balance the excess spending of December by having a no-spend October?
You do this by committing to not spend anything which is not essential from Tuesday, October 1 to Thursday, October 31.
You obviously need to ensure your committed (mortgage/rent/ bills) and essential (groceries/ travel) expenditure is met, but this could be cut back; maybe you walk rather than taking a taxi? But you buy no takeaways, no eating out or going out and no coffees on the go.
I HAVE three rules when it comes to Christmas shopping:
■ Shop with a plan: If you think about what you intend to buy and stick to it, you’re more likely to spend less. It’s like dieting, when you record your calories, you consume less, you’re conscious of your eating and spending.
■ Shop around: Compare prices before buying, this is so quick and simple to do online. I love to use ideal.co.uk for this, I can search prices quickly and easily.
■ Shop with rewards: Check for offers which can save you money from sites such as Vouchercloud. com and Vouchercodes.co.uk
Also check sites such as Topcashback.co.uk and Quidco. co.uk to see if they are offering cashback on any of your intended purchases. They are free to join.
BOOST YOUR INCOME
THESE days it’s incredibly easy to sell things you no longer want or need. Whether through ebay and Facebook, or through the many apps that require little more than a photo on your phone, there are plenty of ways to cash in on unwanted gifts from years past.
Now is the best time of year to sell all your unwanted items to others planning their Christmas purchases.
These sites can also be great for finding a bargain, so you can kill two birds with one stone.
IF YOU’RE visiting friends or relatives at home or abroad, then buy your tickets as much in advance as you can.
You can save a lot of money on train fares in particular by booking months ahead. Those savings can easily add up to a present or two.
CHANGE YOUR HABITS
FOR many of us, Christmas is a time for an abundance of food and drink. You could break the mould this year by steering clear of the booze and save plenty of money doing so.
If you don’t fancy that, then consider doing it beforehand – Go Sober for October is an annual campaign to stop drinking for a month, and not only will you save cash but you can also raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support in the process. Win-win!
THE GIFT OF GIVING
PLENTY of Christmas presents and knick-knacks are given out and then left in a drawer for months.
Why not make Christmas about people, time and connections and not things?
Spending time, talking and playing games with loved ones is the most valuable thing most of us can give. Or perhaps do something for others in need.
Homeless charity Crisis needs more than 10,000 volunteers every year for its activities, while organisations supporting the elderly are always looking for people to spend time with those home alone.
There are so many ways to help and truly give a gift this December.
It doesn’t need to be all about the money.
Don’t spoil the start of 2020 by going into debt
Spending time with loved ones is more valuable than you might think