How to save for Christmas - starting in October

We know, we know - it’s early October! Why are we talking about saving for Christmas already? But hear us out. According to the Bank of England, the typical UK household spends £2,000 per month - but in December, this number rockets by about £500. Which means during this one month of the year, households all across the country are having to find an extra quarter of their monthly spend, on top of their normal output, to cover festive costs like presents, decorations, food and socialising.

Even though there are some super organised people who have been saving for Christmas since January, for most of us it’s a scramble to get ready for the season. Here are a few things you can do to get your finances in order in the run up to the big day, and avoid any financial hangovers come New Year:

1. Start a savings challenge

It might not cover all your Christmas costs, but putting away between £20 to £30 a week between now and the big day could build you a nice little pot of around £300 - which takes a significant chunk out of the extra £500 that households need to cover the festive period.

Take a look at this handy Christmas budget planner to forecast your savings and see how much you could put away in time for Christmas!

2. Set your budgets ahead of time

There’s no one-size-fits-all way to budget, so make sure you find a method that works for you. Whether that’s setting up an overall Christmas budget or breaking it down into smaller categories like groceries and gifts, just make sure you have a plan in place to track your spending - and that you stick to it! Be realistic in what you can afford - as lovely as Christmas day might be, is it really worth having to catch up on extra payments well into the New Year to make up for any overspending?

3. Stick to your list!

Make a list ahead of time of what you need for Christmas, covering everything from food and decorations to gifts and games. Heads can be easily turned by shiny window displays, appealing ad campaigns and seasonal ‘deals’, but chances are that when the turkey is eaten, the crackers pulled and the presents opened, those extras that you simply had to have at the time will be quickly forgotten.

Take a step back and think about what you actually need, and what your gift recipients actually want, away from all the other distractions on the high street. You’re more likely to get things that they (and you) will be happy with.

4. Get the right tools

Once you’ve decided on your Christmas budget, you need the right tools to keep you on track! With Yolt you can set budgets and tag purchases so you can see exactly where your money is going. You can set budgets in Christmas related categories - like shopping or groceries - and tag any extra spend as #Christmas, so you can check your spending at a glance. Find out how to set up budgets in your app here.

5. Know when to say no

Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean you have to go to every party on the list. It’s all about quality, not quantity, so pick the events that are most important to you and only commit to those. You could also suggest some budget-friendly alternatives, like a pot-luck evening or mince pies and mulled wine rather than a full-blown buffet meal. Chances are there might be a few other in your group grateful for a more wallet-friendly suggestion!

6. Get creative

Christmas is the season of giving - not buying! If money is a little tight when it comes to gifts, try exchanging something homemade (put that Bake Off inspiration to good use!), or get a group together for secret Santa.

7. Spend time, not money

There are loads of free and low cost things yo can do in the run up to Christmas to get you in the festive spirit! If you have kids, why not get them to write a letter to Santa? If you post it by December 6, Santa might even write back

Take a walk around your village or town and take a look at all the lights - there are always a few people who really go for it and have full light shows around their houses! Or if you’d rather stay in, get yourself a hot chocolate and make the most of all the classic Christmas films that are played on rotation this time of year.

People over? Why not host a game night! There’s nothing more Christmassy than a game of charades after a couple of mulled wines.

Ultimately Christmas time is all about spending time with loved ones - not stressing about money! Yolt makes it easier to keep an eye on your spending so that you can focus on having fun this festive season. Check out more of our tips for saving this Christmas.

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