With less than three months to Christmas, now is the time to think about saving and budgeting for what is the most expensive time of the year.
Ever heard the old adage, "Before Christmas has even said 'hello', it's saying 'buy buy’"? Well, some things never change – but never fear. There are plenty of ways to be frugal in the run-up to Christmas without unleashing your inner Scrooge.
While we saved a huge amount over the lockdowns, you can never have enough savings. Here are 7 salient tips from John Lowe of Money Doctors.ie on getting financially ready for Christmas.
1. Go cold turkey: We might as well start with the hardest one. Addicted to your morning Starbucks? Buy your lunch out every day? Cherish the Friday takeaway? Start carrying a travel mug, bringing meals to work and cooking at home – being thrifty from now until Christmas could easily save €50-€60 per week. You’ll thank yourself!
2. Make a list, check it twice: If Santa could do it, so can you! We’re all familiar with the pre-holiday food stock up, the leftovers that invariably follow Christmas Day – and the endless sandwiches, stir fries and salads that follow. Avoid overstocking by thinking ahead and making a grocery list and sticking to it between now and Christmas but especially in Christmas week. Splitting your shopping into several mini trips in the run-up to the big day can also save on panic buying, saving you money.
3. Call in your favours: Many supermarkets run special offers for those with loyalty cards. Start getting used to utilising these offers and vouchers. This can be particularly useful for token presents for colleagues or business associates – for example, avail of one of the many offers on discounted wine or spirits available now and save some money while ticking off that socially mandated gift exchange.
4. Be someone’s Secret Santa: Chances are, you’re not the only one in your family or friend circle struggling to find cash in the run up to this time of year. Reach out in advance to your relatives and friends to suggest running Kris Kringle with a set budget between you all; or agree that aunts and uncles across the board will cut back on presents for each other’s kids next Christmas.
5. Give the gift of time: Think about what your friends and family would really value, that won’t cost you money. Do you have a skill they’re lacking, like a talent for technology or some keen green fingers? Maybe you have a couple of free Friday nights that you could offer to spend babysitting, washing a car or walking a friend’s dogs. It’s much more likely that gifts like these will be more appreciated, memorable – and affordable – than any bucket of bath products from Boots. You can even personalise them by making your own vouchers and popping them inside a card. You’ve three months to think about it.
6. Check bank fees plus credit card balances: There are still banks who want your business so if you are not getting a good deal, shop around for your current account here. If your credit card is not clear or you are having difficulty in paying it off, you could transfer that balance to a 15 month provider and better still, divide that balance by 15, pay off the debt completely ready in time for Christmas 2022! That provider is An Post Money – make sure you have a clean credit history.
7. Do a deal: Trawl online discount websites for gifts before resorting to full-price retailers. GroupOn, LivingSocial, DoneDeal and Pigsback often have excellent rates on high-quality products and experiences. In particular, they’re a great source of pamper packages, spa days and luxury meals at affordable prices. For holidays, SkyScanner and HolidayPirates can’t be beaten – for example, you can surprise your other half with a trip for two to a romantic location of his/her choosing.
There you have it: high holiday spirits without the high prices. Happy saving!
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ.