Even though it falls at the same time each year, I often feel caught out by Christmas. Having no money at Christmastime isn’t ideal, so how can you avoid it? Here are my tips for ensuring that you have cash this Christmas.
1) Start saving now
The best way to avoid having no money at Christmas is to start saving for it. If you’re reading this on Christmas Eve, then I realise this will be a frustrating one. But the sooner you can start saving for Christmas, the better. It doesn’t have to be loads, but even £1 per week will make a difference.
A simple savings hack that I use is the round-up feature on my Monzo account. Every time I make a purchase, Monzo rounds it up to the nearest £1. This means that if I spend £2.80 in Tesco’s, it’s rounded up to £3, with 20p going in a pot which I’ve earmarked for Christmas. I’ve done this throughout the year and I have managed to save £160.55 to date. It feels effortless too. I’ve also written about how you can combine Monzo with IFTTT if you need to up your savings game.
2) Side Hustles
Not everybody can afford to save. If you don’t think you can spare anything to put aside, then why don’t you look into a side hustle? Aa ‘side hustle’ is something you do on the side to bring in some extra cash and you’re legally able to earn up to a £1,000 before worrying about paying extra tax. If you don’t know where to start, then check out my guide to snaping up free cash. This should give you some inspiration to get started.
3) Pick up presents in advance
Sometimes we see something and we think it would be perfect for a loved one. So instead of walking on by, why not buy it and put it to one side? My son was born on 29 December, so we have a double hit of celebrations in December. With that in mind, I try and pick up bits and pieces when I see them throughout the year. If you’ve bought in advance, then there’s less chance you’ll end up with no money at Christmas.
4) Get crafty
If you’re struggling to come up with a gift idea, then you could always make something for a loved one. I am not particularly crafty myself, but I have successfully made salt dough Christmas decorations, hampers and pots of gold. I’ve also had a whirl at jam making.
If you decide to make gifts, then try to get started in advance, so you can spread the cost of supplies. It’s also worth shopping around and keeping a spreadsheet so you can monitor your spending.
Christmas is about saying “I love you and I care about you” and you’d be surprised by how much people love to receive a homemade gift that you’ve put some thought into.
5) Have a gift amnesty
This one isn’t my tip. It’s come from money saving guru Martin Lewis. But I wanted to include it because I think it’s a great way of saving some cash.
A gift amnesty works by speaking to friends and/or family members ahead of time and agreeing not to buy one another a Christmas gift. It means that you’re not buying for the sake of buying and it will also save you some cash. I’m sure that anybody that cared about you would rather you put a gift amnesty in place, then risk having no money for Christmas.
6) Set a budget
It’s easy to go mad at Christmas. Especially when we see all the ‘buy one get one free’ and pre-Christmas sales. But set a budget and stick to it. If you can only afford to spend a certain amount on one person, then make that call and stick to it. Make sure you budget for all of the extras too, including any festive days out and the cost of your Christmas tree.
7) Don’t go overboard
You may be tempted to go over the top, especially if you have little ones. But you don’t need to buy loads of expensive presents to make Christmas special.
Do you have any Christmas traditions in your house? Is there a film you like to watch each year? It’s the Christmas traditions that your kids will remember when they’re older, not the size of their present pile.
8) Treat kids to experiences, not things
Children love nothing more than spending quality time with their loved ones. So instead of buying lots of material items, perhaps you could write a list of experiences to share together. Maybe you could do a different one each month. The only limitation with this kind of gift is your imagination and the ideas can be as expensive as you want to make them. You could go for a family picnic, visit the cinema, or promise a trip to the seaside. You might also decide to include some more expensive activities, like a trip to the theme park. If you do this, then you’ll probably visit in the spring or the summer, so you’ll have time to save up towards that activity.
9) Have a word with the grandparents
If you’re worried about your kids not having presents on the big day, then why not have a chat with a grandparent? I’m not suggesting that you ask them for money (although there’s nothing wrong with doing that if you feel comfortable), but you could ask them to buy your child a specific item that you know they’d like. You could also ask if you can add the present from Gran to Father Christmas’s haul. This could really help to take the pressure off if you’re worrying that you’ll have no money for Christmas and you’re concerned about what the gift pile that Rudolf drops off will look like.
10) Hit the pound shop
If you’re looking for some affordable stocking fillers, then head to your local pound shop. My friend’s kids absolutely love getting bouncy balls and felt tips from Father Christmas and she never pays more than £1 for them.
11) Don’t get into debt
As lovely as Christmas is, it’s best to avoid getting into debt if you can. After all, you don’t want to be paying for Christmas next April.
11) Keep it in perspective
I absolutely love Christmas, but I think there’s a lot of pressure on people to have the perfect day and it’s important to put the day into perspective. Hopefully my tips will help you to avoid being in a situation where you have no money at Christmas. But if you are skint, remember, Christmas is one day. It’s okay if you’re not looking forward to it and it’s okay if you don’t have the best day ever.
What plans do you put in place when festive money worries kick in? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below.