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How to financially plan for Christmas when money is tight

Christmas is a stressful and financially difficult time for many people so when money is tight the pressure to deliver a great Christmas (especially if you have children) is very high. There are many things to plan to buy for Christmas but then there are also the unexpected costs making it difficult to budget for this most expensive of seasons.

However, there are ways you can deal with the costs of Christmas and take a little bit of the stress out of the build-up and the day itself. Some great ways to take back control of your finances and plan financially include:

Plan what you need to buy in advance in order to budget more effectively

The more you can plan your purchases for the Christmas period, the easier it will be for you to budget your money for the months prior to the big day. Creating a budget for each person you need to buy for alongside an ideas list makes it much easier to stick to a certain amount when you start your present shopping as well as reducing stress.

It is also a good idea to start saving some money as early as possible, even a couple of pounds a week can give you some extra cash when you need it most. Put the money in a separate account or place it in a jar marked ‘Christmas money’ to limit the temptation to spend the money on anything other than its intended purpose.

Cut back on presents you are buying this year

The bigger your family the more expensive your Christmas can be with an increase in the amount of food, drink and presents you will need to buy. Raise the idea of cutting back a little with other family members. You could decide to just buy for the children of the family, they are the ones that get the most excitement out of Christmas after all.

You don’t just have to cut back on quantity, you can cut back on price too. Lowering the budget per person can help you save a lot of money but just because you spend less doesn’t mean you can’t put plenty of thought into them.

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Make your own cards and gifts where possible

A great way to save money is to make your own cards and gifts for friends and family at Christmas. Homemade gifts usually mean a lot more to those receiving them as you have put time and effort into making them. Things you could make include: chocolates, mugs, pictures, jam, preserves, chutneys or clothing.

Making your own Christmas cards is one of the best way to save money as Christmas cards are very expensive. Get your hands on some card, glitter, paint and pens and remember you don’t have to be an artist. If you have kids, use their craft supplies to save spending money or better yet, get them to make them for you for a slightly more personal touch.

Spread the cost of Christmas over the whole year

Christmas catalogue companies have got one thing right, spreading the cost of Christmas over the entire year will make the season a little bit easier on your bank balance. As I mentioned above, saving as and when possible is a good idea but you can also buy presents throughout the year spreading the cost that way.

Make sure you grab bargains in the sales throughout the year; from the January sales to the summer sales, there are many savings to make and it is a good habit to get into. This is particularly good if you plan to buy electronics, clothes or experiences which can be expensive near Christmas but will be reduced in price significantly throughout the year.

Don’t forget food, drink, decorations and anything else

Present buying is a very important part of Christmas but you shouldn’t forget about food, drink, decorations and any other little things you may need for Christmas, especially if you are hosting a Christmas party.

As most of the food cannot be bought until near Christmas day it can be difficult to avoid that last minute expense. However, there are ways you can spread the cost a little. You can buy drink, crackers, chocolates, biscuits, non-perishables or foods that can be frozen weeks or months in advance and store them away for the Christmas period itself.

There is no doubt that Christmas can be a big strain on so many people financially but there are ways for you to cut back or spread the cost and still have an enjoyable festive season. Christmas is nearing again and if you haven’t already started planning, you should start to think about how you are going to finance presents, food and more.

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