…without the need for the ol’ overdraft
It’s about that time of year when we think ‘F**K’ when we open our banking apps. It’s the time of year when we think that perhaps that sequin dress that we thought was an absolute bargain just a week ago and have already ripped the tags out off, wasn’t the greatest idea. Christmas is just around the corner and with its gift-giving, goodwill, food, drink and overpriced glasses of mulled wine from the local festive market, it’s time to start thinking about our budgets.
As always I’m dishing out this advice for you lot, myself and the 17 women who I’m trying to desperately claw hen party deposits from at possibly the worst time of year to do so (SOZ GUYS!). Christmas costs money – there’s no getting away from that – but there are a few ways that we can be smarter with our spending. Firstly we need to assess our finances to see what areas we can cut back. Then we need to address the reality of party season and budget accordingly for our social calendars. Finally, let’s take a look at the Christmas-specific ways we can manage our outgoings. Here’s some hopefully helpful advice, from one budgeter to another…
STEP ONE: LOOK AT WHERE YOU CAN CUT BACK
Keep Cup. It’s a classic, but instead of grabbing a coffee every morning on your way to work, take your own in a keep cup or flask and save yourself up to £40 a month by making your own winter warmer. The same goes for lunch. Making extra for dinner the night before and taking it in the leftovers for lunch the next day is a good way of dramatically reducing your daily food budget, so that funds that can be used elsewhere.
Cancel Classes. It’s a busy season for socials and so if you feel like you’re not going to be able to make an exercise class because of timings and/or a massive hangover, cancel it in plenty of time to get your money back, or ease back on the exercise classes if your budget is tight and stick to at-home workouts.
Subscriptions. Our subscriptions to services and products are often direct debits that slip out of our account without much fanfare, but take a look through your statement and see if there are any that you can cancel or put on hold for the festive season; from music or video streaming, to subscriptions to apps or magazines.
Transport. The chances of us being thoroughly knackered over Christmas season are high, so there’s a chance of our travel expenses being more costly than usual as we rush to get home as quickly as possible, or find it tricky to walk to work thanks to extreme heel wearing the night before. See if there are any ways you can claw back some spending with transport. Whether it be getting the bus to work instead of the tube as it’s slightly cheaper, sharing cabs home with friends or colleagues, or walking or running to work instead of driving and incurring high car park fees.
STEP TWO: BUDGET FOR PARTY SEASON
One Dress. With all the festive gigs coming up in your diary, it’s completely understandable to want to invest in a new occasionwear piece, but try and stick to the one and change it up with jackets, shoes and accessories. Vintage and second-hand shops are great places to look to get yourself a bargain that no-one else will be wearing, FOR SURE. My mate found some stellar pieces from the eighties in her Mum’s wardrobe.
Split the Wine. Christmas boozing can be pricey and leave you with a massive headache, both literally and with your budgeting figures. Steer clear of pricey cocktails that leave you feeling minging in the morning anyway and find some buddies to split a bottle of wine with, which often ends up being the cheapest option. Drink plenty of water too and drink responsibly peeps!
Make a List. It’s easy to forgot just how much we have on with after-work drinks, Christmas parties both with colleagues, friends and family, Christmas Eve down the pub, New Year’s Eve, catching up with mates you haven’t seen in YONKS. So make a definitive list, detailing every single event that you think will cost you some money, so you can budget for them effectively without too many surprises.
STEP THREE: FIND WAYS TO SAVE YOUR CHRISTMAS PENNIES
Secret Santa. For the past two years my family and I have done a Secret Santa instead of buying individual gifts for everyone. It works really well if you’re all adults who have everything you need anyway and puts a cap of spending. It makes us cry with laughter each year – so much fun.
Homemade Gifts. For friends, family and unexpected gift givers have some homemade treats on hand to dish out; like gingerbread, mints, truffles or if you can’t be arsed to cook – bundles so that they can create their own cookies with the ingredients. Easy on the budget and a nice touch.
Look for discount codes. Never make a purchase without doing a quick google for a discount code or to see where the item is cheapest to buy. It’s often the case that you can get up to 10% off a purchase just for signing up to the newsletter.
Send your cards NOW. The price of sending Christmas cards can creep up thanks to the slightly pricey nature of first class stamps, especially if you have a mountain of cards to send. So pop them in the post sooner rather than later so that you can make use of the cheaper second-class stamp. Or ditch the cards completely and make a donation to charity instead – saving time, materials and doing a good deed.
Photos by Emma Croman
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