Is there any Christmas spirit left? For many, the spirit of Christmas turns into the devil of Christmas when the January credit card statement(s) arrives through the letterbox. That promise you made to yourself on New Years Eve 12 months previously to get debt under control, just got blown out of the water again. So, how do you get through this Christmas without any additional debt, or at least minimising it?
The Nearest and Dearest:
Its closest to home where the biggest Christmas spending usually occurs. Two lots of mums and dads, brothers and sisters and their children – and in many cases their children as well. Have a chat with the adults. Tell them how fed up you are being in debt, and suggest that this year adults dont exchange gifts, just cards. This can be taken one step farther, by suggesting a ceiling is placed on gifts for each child.
Do you have a circle of close friends who meet up for nights out or coffee mornings; and everyone buys everyone else a small Christmas gift? Put the same suggestion to them, youll be surprised how many are in the same boat as yourself, and will welcome the idea with open arms.
Cut Down on your Christmas Card Spend:
Most of the big retailers sell packs of Christmas cards for just a couple of quid. Okay maybe only two or three designs, but how many cards do you send one person? While Christmas might be the time of goodwill, be careful of those packs of overpriced cards for various charities. Less than 10% is likely to get to the charities. Its also a good time to trim the Christmas card list. Do you really need to send cards to those friends you havent seen or spoken to for ten or more years?
Take advantage of Extended Black Friday Offers:
If youve been waiting for Novembers pay packet to buy this years Christmas gifts, all is not lost. Many of the big online retailers and high street stores extend their Black Friday offers through December and into January. For instance, if you intend to upgrade your partners mobile phone as a Christmas gift, there are still some great mobile phone deals on offer to keep a smile on the face of your significant other.
Lock-up Your Laptop:
Are you determined, really determined, to get to January without having increased your debt? Close down your laptop, unplug it, and lock it in a cupboard. Yes online shopping can be cheaper. It also means credit and debit card use. If youre already on a minimum card repayment plan, any savings, and a lot more besides, will be wiped out by additional interest on your card.
Make Christmas Shopping an Enjoyable Experience:
Before the advent of internet shopping, Christmas shopping on the high street was considered by most an enjoyable part of the Christmas build up, and theres no reason it shouldnt continue. Phone a few girlfriends and make arrangements to have a day out Christmas shopping.
The night before, make a list of what you want to get and the cost. Break open the piggybank and take just what you need. Okay, youre allowed to add a little extra for coffee and lunch and, if everyone has a successful day, perhaps that celebratory glass of wine, but leave the credit cards at home.
Cut Down on the Munchies:
Does the turkey really need to be that big probably not. In fact the majority of smaller families or couples these days buy a chicken or pre-packed turkey breast for Christmas Day dinner. But savings can also be made on a whole range of food and drink we buy over Christmas.
Nobody says you have to turn into Scrooge over the festive period, but do you really need all those party packs of sausage rolls, pigs-in-blankets, toasts, mini-quiche and individual trifles, just in case someone pops round. The same applies with alcohol. If youre a family who rarely touch the spirits, why buy bottles of vodka, gin, whisky, brandy and all the rest just in case. Cut it down to the main three, normally vodka, gin and white rum, and buy half-bottles. A dozen cans of lager or bitter and a couple of bottles of wine, job done.
A little saving here and a little saving there, can turn into big savings overall. Not only that, you could be giving yourself the best Christmas gift youve had in a long time when you look at Januarys credit card statement.