Christmas is just around the corner—and for most people that means spend, spend, spend

The average household spends £429 on gifts, food, travel and socialising over the festive season, the Money Advice Service found, with a third of people borrowing on credit cards and overdrafts to cover it. This can make for a stressful January as the bills start to drop through the letter box. It’s not too late to make a few financial changes to help you ease into the New Year with fewer worries—and more money.

 

Don’t panic buy

Around Christmas shops can be manic and stocks can be low, forcing you to just grab “something”. The important thing here is sticking to your budget. Your friends and family won’t want you getting into debt just for a present. Even better, agree a budget between you ahead of time so neither of you are forced to spend more than you can afford.

 

Plan your food

Every year I eat more than I should at Christmas, but even with all the excess there’s often more than we need, especially with Christmas dinner. It’s money in the bin.To combat food waste, plan out how much you’ll really need and factor in subsequent meals that can make the most of leftovers. If you can’t use them straight away, the freezer is your friend. Even unused gravy or wine can be put into ice-cube trays for later use.

 

Use unwanted gifts

Even if you’ve tried to talk to people about what you’d like, you’re bound to open at least one unsuitable present. Days later it’s under the bed and stays there for years until you finally get around to a clear out. Instead, see if you can sell it on auction websites such as eBay. You could also try regifting it to someone you think will like it for their birthday or next Christmas—just make sure you don’t give the present back to the person who bought it for you! 

 

Pre-buy for next Christmas 

The best time to buy little Christmas extras such as cards, wrapping paper and decorations is in the weeks after Christmas Day. You can often save up to 75%, cutting your spend in November and December next year by a decent chunk.

 

Surviving January

Times are often tight in the New Year. You likely spent a lot in December and if you were paid early for Christmas, there’s a longer wait for January’s pay-check. Plus, it’s likely you have larger-than-usual credit-card bills. Hopefully you’ve enough to cover the gaps—but if you’re worrying about how you’ll cover essentials, don’t stick your head in the sand. Instead, seek out some free and independent advice.

The Money Advice Service has a tool to help you find someone near you to talk to, and begin to get yourself back in the black.

 

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