Festive Finances: Savvy Savings

After a rollercoaster few years for the UK economy, many of us feel a little daunted when it comes to the traditional tendency to over-spend at Christmas.

However you’re feeling, we have our top tips to help you navigate the Christmas period. This week, our Festive Finances special sets out savvy ways to save and budget, while our next instalment details ways in which spending where you can may generate a big return on your enjoyment of the season.

The key to frugal festivities is sound planning. Setting aside a dedicated time before the whirlwind of events, invites and obligations takes over can allow you to draw up a budget, feel more confident about your spending plans and also take advantage of these key insights from our team:

It Pays to Shop Smart

Forward planning can see you tick off your gift list without dreading the January credit card bill! Once you’ve taken the time to set your budget and identify who you plan to buy for, you’ll be less likely to succumb to the temptation to overspend.

One way to eliminate potential overwhelm is to theme the gifts you buy each year, for example this year you might give everyone a ticket to a show they’d enjoy, a selection from a local deli, or books. With just a little personalisation – a picture book for a young niece or nephew, a travel guide for a jet-setting sibling and a thriller for a book club loving aunt – you can cater for a wide group of loved ones without wracking your brains or blowing the bank.

Consider shopping online rather than in-store if you know you’ll find it hard to say no to picking up extra items. Online shopping also allows you to target retailers running sales throughout December, and consolidating your spending will reduce, and perhaps even remove delivery charges.

If you’re hosting and need to stock up, consider whether bulk-buying from warehouse stores like Costco would make the cost of membership worthwhile.

We Can Opt-Out of Waste

Much of the financial frustration we feel around this time of year can be traced back to waste. A little planning can help eliminate the temptation to overspend and over provide at this time of year, lightening our financial burdens.

While hosting for Christmas dinner or a drinks party is a valuable chance to show hospitality to our loved ones, there can be a temptation to go overboard. Consider how you’d cater for other occasions throughout the year – the welcome is just as warm without the table groaning under quite the same weight!

Think realistically about the type and amount of food and drink you’ll consume and plan accordingly – nobody wants to be saddled with mounds of leftover sprouts or obscure ingredients that can only be used in one cocktail recipe! Incorporating what leftovers you do have into your meal plan can help keep food bills – and visits to busy supermarkets – to a minimum.

Before splashing out on another set of co-ordinated wrapping paper, take a moment to look out what you have. It’s likely you have a colourful assortment of rolls, bows and labels already – or maybe even some decorative wallpaper or pretty fabric which could serve a new purpose!

For gifts you can’t deliver in person, compare courier costs at www.parcelcompare.com – you could save up to 60%.

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Inviting friends and family to join you at home can be a more cost-effective option than bars and restaurants, as well as being more relaxed and intimate! When you are heading out, consider if some of the ever-expanding range of alcohol-free beers, wines and mocktails might be more appealing than the cost of a taxi, particularly at times when demand is high and ride-share services considerably increase their prices.

To limit your overall spending, homemade gifts are a thoughtful way to show someone you care. Whether you’re a baker, woodworker or knitter, your nearest and dearest will be delighted to enjoy the fruits of your labour!

Curating a personalised photo album – documenting a friendship through the years, or presenting new grandparents with highlights from a child’s first year – can also be a low cost, high impact gift.

Ultimately, whether you choose to splash out or save, Christmas isn’t about the money we spend, but the time. Time spent with our loved ones, and time spent relaxing and recharging ourselves.

If you think you’d benefit from our help in reviewing your finances, why not get in touch for a free no-obligation chat, and give yourself the gift of financial peace of mind?

McCrea Financial Services is Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.