Christmas can be a stressful time of year. Making arrangements for spending time with loved ones can be fraught with difficulties at the best of times. Pressure comes at us from all angles as expectations are riding high, not just on making the most of the festive season with celebrations but for those with children ensuring that they get the gifts they want within your means and aren’t subjected to ridicule from their peers. Then there’s the added expense of it all. Food, gifts, decorations, travel… We need some minor miracle or some serious planning to make our Christmas savings see us through the holidays.
However there is a way to not only cope but have a comfortable and relaxing Christmas. Well, at least financially. With a little planning and effort you too could have Christmas “wrapped up” right from the start of the year. How? Read on and find out.
Every year was the same for us as a family. We struggled to afford everything for Christmas and vowed that each following year would be different. When it came to gifts, we hoped to buy them throughout the year, getting smaller gifts as we found them. As for cash, we intended to put money aside weekly or use Christmas savings schemes regularly. The plan was simple. By December we would have bought most of the presents we needed and would have all the money we needed for food, decorations and everything else. All we’d need to do is just go shopping. Couldn’t be easier.
Well, that was our intention but it never happened. Year after year we found ourselves always finding other things that came along. Bills that had to be paid and half way through the year and we made no start on Christmas. In fact, it was the same as every year. We found ourselves in a last minute rush, scrambling for cash and trying to build up money on savings schemes in the final stages of the year to make whatever money we did have stretch. We still managed to get what we wanted but it was always touch and go.
Time For Change
We finally decided that 2019 was going to be different. We sat down at the end of December 2018 and agreed that we were going to start saving properly. From 1st January we were determined to make sure that Christmas 2019 was going to be the first where we wouldn’t have to worry. It was going to be the year where we would plan our Christmas savings well in advance. We had a fortunate start to be honest. We had been saving up prior to the end of 2018 and had put some money on to a store savings card. When it came to spending it online, some of the of the groceries were out of stock so the balance was credited back to our account. We had the choice of having a final extra pre-Christmas spend or to hold it back and make a start for 2019. We chose the latter.
It dawned on us straight away that we might actually be able to do quite well with our Christmas savings plan. We knew what we needed to save up for – presents, food and drink, decorations – and had a rough idea of how much we needed. All we had to do was figure out just how to get there. Time to get a plan worked out.
Easy Christmas Savings For Everyone
Okay, I didn’t really want to write this just as a personal tale. But more as something that everyone could use to help make their own plans taking tips from our experiences. While I am writing this in late March 2019 and some of it won’t be of use until the end of the year, most of it will still help. For us it’s already put us on track for a relatively relaxing and stress-free festive period. The last thing that we really wanted throughout was to have to worry about money or anything else. Especially just before Christmas and this year we think we’re going to avoid that.
In The Beginning… The January Sales
Everyone always expects to grab a bargain in the January sales. But more often than not we end up buying things we don’t want or will never use. However, it’s a perfect time to plan ahead for the following Christmas if you’re able to and you can pick up some genuine bargains. In our case, after several years of use we knew that we were going to need a new tree for 2019 as well as some more decorations (as we do every year). A few casual shopping trips during the sales managed to get me a tree identical to our previous one plus a healthy supply of decorations. The cost? Less than half the price of our old tree combined. It may have been 11 months before we needed it, but the savings more than made up for having to find space to store it.
At the same time, it’s that perfect opportunity to pick up stocking fillers. Large stores are often filled with gift ideas in the run up to Christmas. Whether it’s novelty gifts, ideas for family members or just something quirky, there are always leftover stocks in January. That £20 gift set you saw in December? It’s probably going to drop to £5. As long as you don’t buy anything edible (unless you fancy treating yourself to some cut-price chocolate) then you could be off to a great start with your future Christmas present shopping.