Tis the Season to be Spending (Prudently)!
Whether you deck the halls with gusto or you’re more ‘bah humbug’, chances are you will spend more of your hard-earned cash in December than any other month of the year. You might refuse to succumb to the flurry of gift-giving with a will of steel, but there are still office parties, nights out, friendly reunions and Christmas sales a-plenty to test that will and keep your wallet busy!
As with any occasion that puts an extra strain on your personal finances, the key to avoiding unnecessary debt is to plan ahead by devising a budget. So it should come as no surprise that budgeting is top of the list in our Top Ten Festive Spending Tips. This, together with our other tips below, should ensure you are well on the road to a very merry Christmas and a debt-free New Year!
1. The key to spending within your means and avoiding unnecessary stress is to draw up a spending budget specifically for the festive season. This is not limited to presents alone, but should also include socialising, additional groceries, even extra petrol/travel expenses for visiting family and friends. Once you have decided on a specific budget to suit your household, stay strong and stick to it! Don’t give in to pressure from children, friends or relatives to impulse buy or splurge on something you haven’t factored in to the budget.
2. Pay in cash, this should help you stick to your budget. If you are constantly tapping, or using the credit card, your budget won’t last long and all that planning will have been for nothing. An extra €10 or €15 here or there on the card won’t seem like much at the time, but it will quickly mount up, and before you know it, you’re heading for financial hangover territory.
3. Even Santa makes himself a list this time of year! So make sure you have a list that you check twice ahead of hitting up the shops. Whether you’re taking on the craziness of the city centres, opting to keep it local with your neighbourhood gift store, or you’re heading to the supermarket to stock up on the festive trimmings, have a list of the necessities with you. Again, resist the urge to impulse buy and send your budget into disarray. Your future January-self will thank you!!
4. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, give the take-away coffees and deli lunches a miss. Get your caffeine fix at home or in the office and bring a packed lunch. Pop the savings you make into a kitty and put it towards a bill you’re dreading in the New Year. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll save!
5. Shop around and do your research before you make a purchase; are the goods you want available at a better price in another store or online? If so, then don’t be afraid to ask for a price match – or at the very least ask for a small discount. At worst you will be turned down, but you could get your goods for the best price on the market.
6. So you have found a better price online and you’re ready to make your purchase. Have you also factored in shipping costs? Ensure that you won’t actually end up paying more to have the goods delivered/and or take any currency differences into account (and also pay attention to the delivery date so you don’t have any awkward explaining to do when you come up empty-handed for your other half!)
7. Increasing numbers of retailers are running pre-Christmas sales. Take advantage of the bargains, especially if any of the items are on your Christmas gift list. Don’t however be tempted to throw caution to the wind and start clearing the sales racks! A ‘great bargain’ that hasn’t been factored in to your budget can turn into a financial nightmare in the New Year.
8. Talk to your family and friends ahead of Christmas and explain that you need to spend more prudently this year. Suggest a Secret Santa or Kris Kindle to cut down on the number of presents expected. Not only can this be great fun, but it’s also a fantastic way to save without losing the magic of Christmas. You’ll also relieve your nearest and dearest of the expectation to buy numerous gifts in return. You’ll be surprised how popular you might be this Yuletide!
9. Have a festive clear-out! Check through your cupboard, attics, garage and other storage areas for any presents or gifts you haven’t used since last Christmas. Even if you don’t want to re-gift them this year, you could sell them on specialist sales sites and put the money towards that kitty for the New Year bills. If there are no takers, why not bring them to your local charity shop and you’ll have done a good deed that’s sure to earn you some Christmas karma!
10. If you do have to borrow money to see you through the festive season, be sensible. Avoid high cost loans such as money lenders, credit cards or in-store credit. Moneylenders are the most expensive form of borrowing in Ireland today, so families should do all they can to avoid using them. Talk to your local credit union about the fair and reasonable Christmas loans on offer, and how repayments can be structured to suit your individual circumstances. You can check out our quick and easy loan enquiry tool below for more information.