12 Ways to control your Christmas finances

Harvey Jones

The nation may be set for a quieter Christmas than usual due to COVID-19 but that won’t necessarily make it cheaper, so it pays to plan your festive spending now. The following tips could help you make the most of the festive season, and avoid a New Year financial hangover

Set a budget

If money is tight draw up a Christmas budget and stick to it. 

Keep a running total to show how much you have left.

 

Go zero

Try to avoid putting Christmas on plastic but if you do, apply for a credit card charging zero per cent on purchases for an introductory period. Then clear the balance quickly to avoid paying off this year’s Christmas next year.

 

Shun store cards

Store cards tempt with welcome offers such as 10% off your first spend but the APRs can be 30% or more. 

Only snap up that initial discount if you plan to clear the debt by the end of the month. Then cut your card up to resist further temptation.

 

Beware Buy Now Pay Later

Buy Now Pay Later schemes are tempting but expensive, and a single missed payment can damage your credit record. Also, this does not offer the same consumer protections as credit cards, so you could be left out of pocket if the product is faulty, does not arrive or the supplier goes bust.

 

Watch out for scams

Online purchase scams trick the unsuspecting by getting them to pay in advance for goods or services that never arrive. Only buy from a trustworthy website.

 

Crack the code

You can save money with hundreds of online vouchers, discount codes and limited time offers from sites such as VoucherCodes.co.uk, GroupOn.co.uk and MoneySavingExpert.co.uk. Or go direct to retailer websites.

 

Suggest a secret Santa

Instead of spending a small fortune buying gifts for all your family and friends, why not suggest a secret Santa? That way you only need to buy for one person, and could get them something worth having. 

Otherwise consider making home-made gifts. The time you spend could easily outweigh the cash value.

 

Plan ahead

Lockdown 2.0 will make Christmas shopping stressful this year, with a dash to hit the shops when restrictions ease in December. You can beat the crowds by ordering online but act early. 

The pandemic has hit with supply chains and deliveries, and that could lead to slower delivery times and shortages, especially for this year's must-have toys. 

 

Beware gift vouchers

Think twice before buying gifts vouchers for purchases at stores that are vulnerable to going bust due to the downturn.

 

Save on delivery costs

If you are not seeing close friends and family due to social distancing, posting gifts could cost a fortune in delivery charges. Why not wait until you can physically meet them? If it’s after Christmas, you might be able to buy bargain prezzies in the sales.

 

Get tax back

If you have been made redundant in the pandemic, ask HM Revenue & Customs if you are eligible for a tax refund as your tax deductions may have been higher than necessary. A refund could save Christmas.

 

Get saving

Once you have paid off this year's festive splurge, start saving regular sums for next year, as Christmas comes round fast. 

Read more: How to save money on transport

Read more: Is it a good time to buy a house?


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