Right girls and boys it’s finally time to tackle the big one. Christmas on a budget. I’ve been waiting to talk about this since I started this blog. Christmas is a magical and wonderful time of year for many of us. But it’s also expensive!
How to make Christmas affordable?
Lets start with the obvious and most simple approach to doing Christmas on a budget. Buy what you need to buy and no more. Yes it’s lovely to give gifts and put on a wonderful show at Christmas, however overspending and going into debt is never fun. Do you really want to still be paying off on Christmas when the gifts are long lost or tossed aside? Next June do you want to be paying a credit card bill for a gift that your loved one has lost all interest in? I doubt it. Decide what is a reasonable sum for your HoHoHo budget.
Make a list and check it twice!
I know many of you despise lists and the effort they take. This time I ask that you humor me. I’m not a list person either but when it comes to the 25th December you can bet your last cent that I’m writing a list.
What goes on it? Name every single person you intend to buy for. Not just family. If you buy sweets for the postman or a mug for the class teacher it goes on the list. When you’ve listed everyone assign them an amount. Bare in mind the longer the list the less money you can realistically assign each person.
If you have to help the big man in the red coat out make sure you have a list and a budget set aside for him. Remember Santy doesn’t need fancy biscuits left out but if that’s a tradition in your house or if new Jammies are part of your annual festivities they should be on the list too. It’s a matter of priorities. The things that are important to you should be on your list with money allocated to them. Doing Christmas on a budget isn’t about deprivation, it’s about spending money on the things you value.
How to pay for Christmas?
It’s well and good me telling you to write list after list but if the money isn’t there to make it possible what’s the point? There’s a lot to be learned from a list. It gives you a really solid starting point for setting up a sinking fund for 2022 and every year there after. Where does that leave you for 2021? You have a few options and only you will know what suits your circumstances best.
- Start budgeting now and the money you can squirrel away is what you work with. This would allow you to have a debt free Christmas. You have just over seven weeks to save. You could supplement that savings with selling things around your home you no longer need or use. Another great option is to earn income on the side and put that additional income towards Christmas.
- Start budgeting now and get a small loan to top up the remainder. While this isn’t the ideal way to pay for the festive season it is better that just getting a loan for the entire amount. Maybe next year you won’t need a top up loan because you can budget in advance and use a sinking fund for it. That said if next year you need a small top up loan for Christmas at least each year you are getting closer and closer to a debt free Christmas.
- Do the bare minimum for this year. If you are working with a small budget but still want to do it debt free then cut the frills and keep the parts that are important to you. Yes the big man still needs to come if there are kids but with Covid 19 and Brexit many children will need to understand Santa and his elves are struggling to get materials. Maybe they could ask for one special gift and a surprise. They’re very clever in the North Pole and will know just the thing for a surprise.
How to do Christmas on a budget?
Every family’s traditions are different. In our house the kids are allowed ask for one big thing and a surprise from Santa or they can ask for two medium sized things and surprises. Anything that would take the workshop a lot of time or resources (think expensive items) must be put on a list for mammy and daddy. We will then decide what we can afford to buy.
If new pajamas or Christmas eve boxes are a tradition in your house buy these things in January and put them away for December. Buying out of season during a sale is the most affordable way to buy things like Christmas pajamas and slippers.
Maybe a new story book or even 25 stories is the tradition you look forward to. Consider checking out your local library. Good for the pocket, environment and the supporting a local amenity.
Check out Facebook marketplace, Adverts and your local charity shops for odds and ends you might need. Things like tree ornaments and decorations for around the home can be picked up for small money. Think about buying some gifts preloved. Children especially young children will not know or care where the gifts came from. Look for items in great condition that need a quick wipe down.
What about food?!
The Christmas dinner is a cliché for a reason. It’s tasty. How can we get the cost down? Lets start with decorating the table. Somewhere in one of the presses there’s a vase or an old jam jar. Hunt them out. Get onto Pinterest and have a rummage around. I like this.
The dinner is really the same as any other roast. The basics don’t change much. If you don’t like sprouts any other day of the year I can’t imagine you’ll eat them on Christmas day so leave them be. The same goes with every part of the dinner. Don’t like or want turkey then don’t cook one. Keep it simple. Cook what will be eaten.
If the traditional turkey and ham dinner makes your mouth water thinking about it then buy and freeze the meat when you see it at a good price. Follow all necessary food safety precautions!
While we are on the subject of food don’t forget to meal plan. If you know that every year on Christmas Eve you like to have a takeaway then put it on the meal plan. Don’t be buying food that won’t be eaten. If on St Stephens Day you visit family and bring a small dish then that’s what goes on the meal plan. The key to Christmas on a budget is to spend money on the things you need or are important to you. Avoiding waste helps keep costs down.
If you’re looking for ways to bulk up your Christmas savings Santis from the Caribbean Dub has just the challenge for you. It’s called the 333 challenge and it is a way to challenge yourself to set aside €333 for Christmas.
One way Santis suggestions earning extra money is through doing Online surveys. Ellie from Planning and Finances has been sharing her side hustle income on her YouTube channel. She talks about how much she earns doing surveys and it’s very inspiring!