Christmas is a time for giving, but it’s easy to let your inner Saint Nick get out of control. If you suffer from an excess of altruism, there are some easy ways to keep your spending under control this festive season.
Plan presents early
Avoiding the last-minute rush for presents is a good start. With consumer confidence rising, retailers aren’t rushing to discount goods – but many have been attempting to encourage early spends with offers and if revenue keeps rising, the discounts may disappear. Planning early also prevents those impulse buys that quickly add up – there’s a reason Santa asks for lists!
Plan meals sensibly
It’s a genuine joy to have a turkey with all the trimmings, but it’s costly and wasteful to throw away your leftovers. Instead of winging it with the turkey, use the wealth of recipes available online, as well as label advice, to get the portions just right. Any leftover turkey can be used in a delicious curry or casserole, which you could even freeze for future use if you need a bit of a detox first.
Track your spending
If you have credit cards, set one aside specifically for your Christmas spend. That way, you can keep an eye on exactly where the money’s going. There are also several smartphone apps that help store and organise your spending - Expensify, for example, is a handy free app available from both the Apple App store and Google play that allows you to track designated expenses and even stores pictures of receipts.
Choose your financing wisely
When planning a Christmas splurge, many people turn to solutions like ‘Christmas Clubs’ to save ahead of time. However, since these don’t offer interest, it usually represents better value to save or invest your cash as normal. If you need a boost closer to Christmas, find a credit card or loan offering 0% purchase plans or interest free periods to spread payments.
Make use of offers
Cashback deals represent a great way to build small returns (usually between 0.5% and 2%) on your credit card spend, while certain reward schemes give goods and services that could be just the Christmas gift you needed. For supermarket shops, cards like the American Express Nectar Credit Card (representative 25% APR variable) can be a valuable boon if you’re hosting a big Christmas dinner. Of course, in order to really benefit from these you’ll need to pay the bill at the end of the month, otherwise interest payments will negate your gains. Usually, your card application will involve tests that can confirm that your limit corresponds with your spending power, keeping your budget under control.
This post was brought to you by Eden Smith, a professional business analyst from London.