The holidays are a time for family, friends, celebration and relaxation. But it shouldn't have to break the bank to fulfil expectations. It's possible to have a fun holiday season without leaving yourself with a financial hangover in January.
We've got some tips to help you keep control of your spending over the holiday season, so you can start the new year in a better financial position.
Create a holiday budget
If you don't set goals and monitor your spending, it's easy to lose track. Budgeting helps you make better financial decisions and look for savings in new places.
Decide how much you can afford to spend on presents, food and socialising over the holidays, and stick to it.
If you're going out in the evening, see if you can car share or take public transport instead of taking a taxi.
Don't overstock food. The shops are closed for just one day. Avoid waste and only buy what you need. You can always pop to the shops again on Boxing Day if you need to.
If you're not sure where to start you can try our Christmas Budget Planner to help you get going.
Resist payday and short-term loans
It may be tempting to take out a short-term or payday loan to help get you through the holidays, but this can be a short-sighted way of looking at things. Don't create a financial predicament for yourself in January by taking out a high-interest, short-term loan.
If you really need extra credit for the holidays consider taking out a low interest credit card. Many providers offer 0% for the first year. This could be a cheaper way to get some cash flowing before the holidays, although you should be careful that it's feasible that you'll be able to keep up with payments and pay off the balance before 0% interest period ends.
Price comparison sites usually make their money when visitors purchase things through their websites. Cashback sites are similar but they give customers cashback on purchases made in-store or online.
If you can use a cashback site for presents and any other large payments you could build up a significant balance to withdraw into your own bank account.
Don't go too big on presents
Anyone who cares about you doesn't want you to go into debt to buy them elaborate gifts. Be smart with gift spending and you can save yourself a lot of cash.
Family and close friends are likely to appreciate unique or personalised gifts more than anything you can buy. Take the time to pick a thoughtful gift for the most important people in your life.
For friends and colleagues it's a good idea to suggest a Secret Santa scheme, where each person buys one other person a present within the group. Not only does it save on money but it also saves precious shopping time.
Think carefully about cards. They're bad for the environment and they normally end up straight in the bin. Cards are a great way of staying in touch with someone far away, or adding a personal message, but getting everybody a card is unnecessary.
Also, there's nothing wrong with regifting, as long as nobody ever finds out!
Shop the sales now
Or, at the very least, don't leave it until the last minute.
Shopping in advance will give you the time needed to find the best deals, rather than snatching up what you can find on the shelves on Christmas Eve. Save yourself the time and hassle by ordering online soon. Usually 2nd class needs to be posted by December 20th to get there on time.
Create a holiday budget. Work out how much you can spend over the holidays without requiring a loan or other form of credit.
Ask friends and colleagues to do a Secret Santa instead of all buying each other presents.
Sign up for cashback sites like Quidco and TopCashback before you do your Christmas shopping.
Go to Ebay to sell nationally or Gumtree to sell locally. You can search Ebay for recently 'completed listings' to find out how much similar items were sold for, and whether it's likely to be worth your time.
Have a great time over the holidays but don't create a financial hangover for January.
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