Saturday 1 October 2016

Ten instant ways you can beat your financial stress before the Christmas rush

Published 19/10/2015 | 08:21

Christmas Savings
Christmas Savings

Sorry to be the one to break the bad news, but there are just ten weeks left until Christmas.

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The good news is it means you also have ten weeks to get ready so that you’re not splurging at the last minute trying to get everything in. Here are my ten tips to get on top of the festive season before it gets on top of you. If you are struggling financially, I’ve included the cheapest loans on the market to help get you through, but nothing beats forward planning.

1. Start saving! If you have online banking, open a deposit account and divert whatever money you can weekly into it. Alternatively, set up a ‘Christmas Club’ in work where everyone puts in a set amount and it gets divvied out before the holidays.

You won’t earn much (or any) interest, but it’s a great discipline.

2. Budget: Make a list of everything you normally buy and estimate the cost. That way you’ll avoid getting into debt for the unexpected. Divide by 10 so you know what to put by every week.

3. Gifts: List everyone you buy for – children, adults, friends, workmates. Keep it in a memo on your phone (I do this every year) and as you go add gifts they might like, from overheard conversations, or something on the radio or spotted in the paper.

It will avoid you rushing about in a panic on Christmas Eve. Ask people what they want. It’s such a relief to be told, knowing they won’t get something only to be ‘recycled’ elsewhere.

4. Delegate: Some of us become martyrs at Christmas and do everything. If you don’t want to host lunch, now is the time to tell everyone.

Family situations can be fraught where ‘tradition’ can mean you end up with all the work!

5. Groceries: You have ten shops between now and the big day. Add one bottle of booze, or box of chocolates, or a small gift to your normal shop and put (or hide) it away. It avoids you buying a massive final shop.

6. Offers: Keep loyalty card points for your final shop. Take up two-for-one offers and keep the second item stored.

Boots’ ‘Three for the price of two’ promotions means you can pick up a stocking filler each time for free when you’re buying ordinary cleansers, moisturisers etc.

7. Organise a Kris Kindle. Pick a spend limit (be generous as you’re only buying one gift) and everyone gets something decent. Our family has done this for years and it’s great. Buy for two children each among nieces and nephews, or Godchildren perhaps.

8. Start internet shopping now. There are bargains to be had online, but leaving it too late means delayed deliveries or returns. You have a right to change your mind and get a full refund on any EU-registered website.

9. Over the next few weeks clear out your freezer. Eat up all the odd portions of food you have (I have a freezer-food dinner day for this, which is eclectic to say the least!). It leaves room for all the extra food you’ll have and you’ll know what’s where.

10. Finally, Christmas is supposed to be fun! Diary dates for lunches, drinks and outings so they don’t clash. Order turkey, ham and tree in good time, and don’t feel you have to do it all. Most people are happy to be handed a glass of something and a small bowl of something when they call.

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