The Christmas adverts are on telly and the jingles are in the shops. This should be a time of happiness and cheer but with the cost-of-living crisis causing fear, Christmas is going to compound them unless you plan ahead. You may be wondering how on earth you are going to cope with the added expense that Christmas brings but I am here to tell you that you can take steps to reduce your money worries, leaving yourself time and space to enjoy the festivities.
As the festive season approaches and all the costs that entails, why not consider how you budget for Christmas? It’s easy to get caught up on spending in the run up to the big day. Easy to get into the spirit and excitement and start spending too much on presents and ignoring your budget. In my experience, accountants frequently encourage their clients to budget but forget to do it themselves!
The expenses add up when you take account of everything. Christmas cards, presents, fancy clothes, postage, food, drink, decorations – the list seems endless. I remember when I worked in London, the additional costs of dressing to go to the Savoy came at exactly the wrong time! However, you can still have a wonderful time without putting yourself in a difficult position with money.
Not only is money in short supply over Christmas, but also time is a precious commodity. It seems as though there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done – as well as clear your desk – and it seems impossible to see all the people you want to connect with in the run up to the festive season.
With a bit of clever time management, you can get what you need doing done and also find some time to do what, after all, this season is all about – connecting with friends and family.
Put some of these tips in place today to help you keep your budget under control and to make time. If you can’t manage to do them all this year, maybe do some straight away and keep some for future years. At least that will mean you are better prepared.
Tips to control your spending this Christmas
1. Plan ahead before buying presents. Make a list of gifts before you go shopping or start searching online. This will also make it less stressful!
2. Consider the 4-gift rule for children (and adults, for that matter!); something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.
3. Prepare a budget for all your festive costs – and stick to it! Don’t forget to include:
- Presents and wrapping paper
- Cards and postage
- Food and drink
- Visiting friends and relatives
4. Save money by making gifts and cards. You could have a craft day with the children to make cards and edible gifts.
5. Remember to use points you have saved up in supermarkets and other stores to buy food and gifts.
6. If you have a large family, come to an agreement that each of you buy only one gift for another member of the family, like a Secret Santa. That can save time and money.
7. Use price comparison websites so that you know you are getting the best deal online. You can also make best use of bulk offers such as 3 for 2 on gifts – but don’t buy gifts just for the sake of the offer; only get them if those gifts are on your list.
8. Research any free activities or events you can attend, e.g. Christmas lights switch on, festive walks, visits to Santa.
9. Remember a lot of people already have a lot of possessions and don’t need any more! Maybe suggest a meet up instead?
Tips to manage your time this Christmas
Also, it can be overwhelming thinking about everything that needs to be done. The key to a wonderful Christmas is time management and the earlier you start the better!
Start by looking at:
- What work needs to be completed before Christmas?
- Who do you need to see and where?
- Do your children have activities you need to fit in?
Let’s have a look at some of these.
1. Getting your work done
There’s nothing worse than the thought of unfinished work hanging over you when you are trying to celebrate with the family. Make a list of all the work you need to do and divide it between:
- What has to be done before you finish work for the Christmas period and what are the deadlines? For many of you working in practice there are always March year ends to complete. At the start of this year, I was determined to get these done early but I’m still waiting for information and replies so I can get them completed.
- What would you like to get finished before Christmas for your own peace of mind?
- Prioritise the items you are going to leave until January 2024. Remember this will be the self-assessment month so plan ahead as much as possible.
2. Fitting people in
- Who do you want to see before Christmas to give them their presents? Will this be a brief drop off or a meet up?
- Who do you want to see during Christmas? How will you plan this?
- Can you arrange a meet in the New Year instead? This will take pressure off before Christmas?
- Are you going to visit them at their home? If so, where do they live, and can you see more than one person in one trip if they live a distance away?
- Keep a check on the weather as it gets closer to the time so that you can decide whether it will be ok to travel.
3. Are there Christmas activities to attend?
Many Christmas activities are free, and they are an excellent way to get into the spirit of the season. Keep an eye out on social media and local publications to see what is on. Perhaps you can buddy up with someone else if you have childcare responsibilities so that you can take it in turns to look after the children while the other works on their ‘to-do’ list!
Christmas is often said to be the most wonderful time of year. But it can also feel a bit overwhelming, especially with all the uncertainty this year, so by thinking about how you can best manage your time and lessen the pressure, you may be able to enjoy it more. Remind yourself that this is a time of peace and joy and know you don’t need to spend a fortune and race around seeing everyone. This is your time as well!
Anna Goodwin @2023 All Rights Reserved.