Lee Phillips, Wales manager at the Money Advice Service writes today’s blog. Check out her five top tips to have yourself a savvy little Christmas this year.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But many may get caught up in the festive cheer only to face hefty bills in the New Year. Research shows that the average UK household spends around £530 on Christmas (£700 if you have children). The pressure to please loved ones with the perfect gift tops the list of reasons people overspend at Christmas. It may seem inevitable that you have to spend a fortune on Christmas. But there are ways you can enjoy the festive season without breaking the bank.
Consider starting some new traditions such as making your own gifts, especially if you have a hidden talent. Give the gift of your time this year by looking after someone’s children so they can enjoy a break. You could also do Secret Santa or choose to exchange gifts after the Boxing Day sales.
29% of parents in Wales said pester power regularly got the better of them, and that the lead up to Christmas is one of the worst times of year for this.*
Remember that it’s perfectly okay to say no to your children when they ask for things. It’s important to explain the difference between wants and needs. Take this opportunity to teach them that we have money for certain items, but not always for sweets or toys. You could even give them a little money and give them a small part of the Christmas shop. This also gives them an important role to play. The Money Advice Service has a guide for how parents can talk to their children about money.
In order to choose the food you’ll be serving on Christmas day, do a blind taste test to compare expensive options with affordable alternatives such as supermarket branded items. You would be surprised at how much money you can save – especially since you’ll often be unable to tell the difference in taste.
If you are looking to use a credit card, check your credit rating first, and do a soft search for the best card for your needs, such as a 0% purchases card. However, you should only use a credit card if you are confident you can pay it back. If you’re starting to use a credit card to pay for day to day spending, or are only able to make minimum repayments and are paying interest, that’s a red flag to take action on your money worries.
We know people can spend a year in debt before they seek help, but if you’re struggling financially you don’t have to handle it alone, as there are lots of free advice services across the UK. Most people who have received debt advice have reported they feel less stressed or anxious and more in control of their life again. The Money Advice Service has a free debt advice locator tool which outlines services that are free, confidential and hold a standard accredited by the Money Advice Service.
By getting on top of your spending, you can enjoy the festive season with a weight off your shoulders, and ensure your finances and outlook are in a better position come 2019.
*Opinium conducted online research on behalf of the Money Advice Service from 25th to 31st October. The research was among a sample of 4,003 nationally representative UK adults (aged 18+). The sample was boosted to 501 adults in Wales from 25th October to 6th November. The sample was then cross broken for those that were parents of children aged 2-18 in Wales, which totalled 148.