Christmas countdown 2023: Less than 100 days to go

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With less than 100 days to go until Christmas, thoughts slowly start to turn to preparing for the big day.

As households across the country continue to battle higher costs, financial expert Makala Green has warned “forewarned is forearmed” when it comes to getting ready for December 25th.

Following a year of price hikes – from energy to food – many household budgets and savings are feeling the squeeze.

In fact, according to research by rewards club Virgin Red, amid the cost-of-living crisis, adults plan to reduce their Christmas budget by an average of 24% this year.

So, with the countdown to Christmas officially on we’re sharing tips to help you to spread the cost as well as cheer this festive season.

Set your budget

Christmas might only be one day but let’s be honest, it feels like it starts a little earlier every year.

It starts with picking up a few gifts here and there, is followed by a Christmas party at work or a festive day out with the kids and before you know it, you’re binning the wrapping paper and carving the turkey on December 25th.

The festive season is a marathon, not a sprint so it’s important to have a budget in place to avoid a financial hangover come the new year.

Before you start planning the perfect Christmas, think about how much you’re able to spend to make that a reality. Setting a budget and establishing your priorities might seem a little Grinch-like but it’s actually a sensible way to keep a handle on your spending.

You don’t need to buy for everyone

Repeat after us, you don’t need to buy a present for everyone you know at Christmas.

While we’re not encouraging you to go full Scrooge this year, let’s normalise prioritising our gift list. We all know that we shouldn’t give to receive but the reality is giving a present can create an obligation to reciprocate rather than for the joy of giving.

Don’t feel pressure to buy for everyone this year. If your budget only allows for you to keep your gift giving to immediate family, that’s OK. If you’re feeling bad about leaving friends or extended family out, why not make a plan to do something together in the new year that way you save and have something to look forward to.

Shop around

The beauty of starting your Christmas shopping early is that it means you can shop around for gifts.

We all know the benefits of shopping around and comparing prices – especially when it comes to big purchases – but sometimes the Christmas rush can put paid to our plans.

Shopping advance not only helps avoid the last-minute rush but also helps reduce the risk of making impulse buys amidst the chaos of Christmas shoppers.

Be wary of gift cards or vouchers

There’s no denying that gift cards or vouchers can be great gifts. Their simplicity can mean that they’re the gifts that keeps on giving for time-pressed shoppers, but spend with caution.

When you buy a gift card or vouchers, there’s always the risk that the retailer or the provider could go bust. It’s also important to be aware of expiry dates – especially on experiential vouchers – to make sure your recipient doesn’t miss out.

Of course, there’s also the risk that a person could forget about their gift or worse lose it, so it’s always worth while weighing up whether or not it’ll be as simple as it seems.

Don’t get caught up in social media 

This is a big one. As the festive season fast approaches, so does the onslaught of social media posts. Yes, we’re talking photos at Christmas markets, #Elfies at Santa’s grotto, the over-the-top decorations… That’s before we’ve even mentioned getting ready for our Christmas parties.

Don’t let the pressure to try and keep up with social media dull your yuletide sparkle. If you’re working to a budget, there are plenty of fun activities that don’t cost a fortune. Why not have a Christmas movie marathon at home to get you into the spirit, have the little ones made their own decorations for the tree, or wrap up for a crisp winter walk to enjoy the lights in your local area.

Don’t be a dinner snob

Christmas dinner is perhaps the best dinner of the year. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to fork out for top of the range goods for it to be tasty.

Whether you’ve got the skills of a Michelin star chef or are a kitchen novice, there’s no need to overspend on ingredients this year.

In fact, according to an experiment by Martin Lewis, 62% of people he tested couldn’t tell the difference between ‘high end’ and own brands, so don’t feel the need to go all out if you can’t.

Avoid a financial hangover  

Christmas is the most magical time of year for many, however, for those worried about their finances, it’s one of the most difficult.

If you’re concerned about debt, it’s important to seek professional advice now rather than later. Taking action before the festive rush could help you avoid further problems in the new year, allowing you to make the most of the season to be merry knowing you have a solution in place.

 

Maxine McCreadie

Maxine McCreadie

Author/Debt Expert

Maxine McCreadie, prominent personal finance writer featured in Vogue and Yahoo News, delivers practical guidance, simplifying money management and championing financial literacy.

How we reviewed this article:

HISTORY

Our debt experts continually monitor the personal finance and debt industry, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

October 4 2023

Written by
Maxine McCreadie

Edited by
Ben McCormack

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