Christmas shopping: Expert advises ‘common sense’ approach
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Christmas can be a stressful time for many households, with many Britons feeling the pressure to spend more than they can afford on costly presents and festive treats. But Christmas spending doesn’t have to be stressful – Express.co.uk has spoken to financial experts to find out the best ways to keep within budget this December.
Experts are expecting Britons to splurge on their festivities this year to make up for last year’s disappointing Christmas under pandemic restrictions.
Jo Thornhill, a money expert for MoneySuperMarket, told Express.co.uk that overall spending is expected to be up by 21 percent on last year.
Ms Thornhill added: “After a difficult two years where contact between family and friends has been limited, it’s not surprising that many are looking to the Christmas break with added excitement, but this doesn’t mean you have to break the bank.
“If you’re concerned about the impact that Christmas might have on your finances, rest assured that there are always more ways to save.”
Here are five tips for managing your money to ensure your festive celebrations don’t fling you into the red.
How to set a budget for the Christmas period
It’s essential to forward plan by drawing up your Christmas budget early.
You’ll need to work out any necessary outgoings such as predicted fuel bills, rent and average weekly food shops, then subtract these from your income to see exactly how much you’ll have left to spend on Christmas.
Managing director at Savoo, Ed Fleming, told Express.co.uk: “The best way to set a limit is to start by writing down where your money will be going for the festive season, for example on presents, decorations, parties, meals out and travel.
“This will help you to visualise where you need to allocate more money to, as well as where you could cut or lower spending.
“Writing down small and minor costs such as public transport fares is extremely important as this can easily add up and eat away at your bank account.”
Always overestimate your costs to avoid any nasty surprises that could see you run over budget this Christmas, for example, your energy bill will likely be more expensive than previous months as the temperature drops.
Shop around for your presents and stick to a list
To keep your Christmas present shop from spiralling out of control, Jo Thornhill recommends that Britons create a pressie shopping list.
She recommends that shoppers draw up a list of all the people they need to buy presents for then plan what gifts they need to buy for each person.
Make sure you stick to this list as it will stop you from overspending on products and presents you don’t need to buy.
If you plan ahead early you can take advantage of the pre-Christmas sales such as Black Friday on November 26 and Cyber Monday on November 29.
Be realistic – can you afford increased Christmas spending this year?
Although it may be tough to face, if you are struggling financially or if you are in debt it’s important to limit spending as much as possible to avoid worsening the situation and causing yourself more stress into the new year.
Makala Green, a chartered financial planner and Founder of Green Wealth Planning shared her insights with Express.co.uk.
She recommends that if money is tight you should “communicate to your loved ones the purse strings are tight this year and choose to buy gifts only for those you feel particularly need one. People will understand and would rather you not endure stress or get into debt than receive a present, no matter how amazing it is.”
For those in a financially difficult position Mr Flemming advises: “You can also look at getting creative and opt to make some homemade gifts such as gingerbread, Christmas cards and tree decorations for those you’ve decided to not buy gifts for this year.”
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