There are choruses of ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ blaring out of every building; some of us are thinking “but is it really?!” as we begin to calculate how much money we’ve spent, and how much we don’t have. As it’s coming up to Christmas, you’ve spent all of your latest payday on presents, and now you’re wondering how you’re going to even afford the Christmas food shop, right?
It is so easy to get carried away with the excitement and festivities that we often forget to budget month by month in order to be able to afford the necessities such as food and bills! Don’t worry; it’s something we’re all guilty of once we get into the festive mood. If you’re anything like me, you’ll go overboard on presents for family members because of the look on their faces when you pick the perfect present.
So if you’ve overspent this Christmas there is no need to panic! All the supermarkets are always competing to get the best prices and deals through December, which means we get bags of bargains, and the best budget shop of the year!
If any of you have watched BBC’s Eat Well for Less? you will know that they often swap packaging of expensive brands and cheap brands to see if the families notice. The majority of the time they actually say how bad it tastes because they believe it’s a cheap brand, which goes to show we convince ourselves that expensive foods are nicer. Don’t fall into this trap! Go to Aldi, Lidl, or even a locally run shop and cut your food bill in half!
Top tip: If you go to mysupermarket.co.uk you can add items to your basket and the prices from each supermarket will show so you can always get the best deal and save yourself any extra expense.
December payday usually comes too late to actually spend on that year’s Christmas, which means you could budget some of it to spend in the January sales ready for next year’s Christmas presents. If you get on top of budgeting at the beginning of the year you will barely even notice the money missing each month. You don’t even have to buy something every month, you can put money in a money box towards buying presents over the months running up to Christmas, and that way you aren’t using a whole payday in October or November which will leave you worrying week to week on how you will survive until your next payday.
To begin with it can seem hard to start saving as you feel like you need the money there and then. Start with a couple of pound a week, and then once you’re in the habit of putting money in your pot start putting £5 a week. This will build up nicely and give you a base budget where you can eventually add bigger amounts to reach your desired total by December.
I’ve suggested using a money box as I think that it is too easy to use our bank accounts and debit or credit cards these days. We barely even feel like we’re spending real money because we can pay for stuff at the click of a button or a swipe of a card. As for physical money, it seems that we’re a bit more reluctant to say goodbye, and so if you are putting cash away each month you are unlikely to “borrow” money from your savings.
With all this money talk, don’t forget to actually enjoy your Christmas! That is the main part, and the less money worries you have, the more time you have to sit and enjoy time with your loved ones. Saving monthly throughout the year could mean that you can say no to that dreaded extra shift on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day and spend extra time – not money – celebrating.
Written by Robyn Evans