While the world of social media goes crazy over a carrot called Kevin, bouncing boxers and Mrs Claus we are sat here panicking at the near-constant reminders that Christmas is just around the corner. At the last count there were only 15 sleeps left. No, that’s not terrifying at all.
The problem with this sudden realisation that 2016 is getting away from us is the fact that it was all going to be so very different this year. We sat down in January, full of the post-Christmas glow, and promised we would be sensible adults and this year would be the year we saved and properly prepared for the seasonal festivities.
Of course, the problem with that is that none of us really want to be adults, and life gets in the way. The car needs a new tyre, the kids have multiple growth spurts and inexplicably you’ve ended up with a puppy who insists on eating things it shouldn’t. Your planned Christmas savings have just been reallocated to the vet.
How then, with less than 2 weeks to go, how do you make sure you don’t overspend and end up starting 2017 with a large credit card bill? Here are top tips to have a sparkly, happy Christmas without the overdraft.
Make a list
Believe it or not retailers are not your friends. They may seem friendly and inviting, but they are not making their displays all pretty just to give you a nice warm fuzzy feeling. If they get it right, and they often do, that little bit of Christmas spirit you feel buzzing through you as you scour the seasonal and gift aisles will encourage you to spend, spend, spend. Before you know it you’ve spent £20 on a gift set for Aunty Edna, a woman you can’t actually stand!
The key to tackling this is to ensure you never, ever go Christmas shopping without a list. It doesn’t have to be the world’s most comprehensive list, but just agreeing who you will (and most importantly, won’t) be buying presents for will keep you focussed.
This applies just as much to the food shop as it does to present buying. If you have ever gone shopping in the days leading up to Christmas you will be faced with a supermarket crammed with stressed looking shoppers pushing ridiculously full trollies. A little known fact is that the shops will be open again on Boxing Day. You do not need to shop as though you are in a siege.
The no presents pact
Another great idea, if you are concerned that present buying will spiral out of control, is to make a pact with friends and family. Many of us don’t need more pairs of socks, or a novelty tie for £15 – so why not skip it completely?
Of course, if you hate the idea of not exchanging gifts at all, why not set a price limit so you can budget accordingly? Alternatively, if you have a large family and everyone feels pressured to buy for everyone, why not arrange a Secret Santa? People may thank you for bringing up the idea and taking the hassle out of everything.
There’s always next year …
And while it might be too late to make much of an impact for this year, there is always next. Chances are none of us are going to fill much flusher when it comes to the cash in the next 12 months, so just consider, putting £5 aside each week until this time next year will ensure you have £260 in the kitty.