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12 ways to avoid overspending this Christmas

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15th December 2019

Gorgeously arranged Christmas Instagram photos fill your screens, countless ads of dinner tables overflowing with extravagant food flood your TV and everyone’s gabbing about your mother-in-law’s flawlessly wrapped Christmas gifts. If this is familiar to you, is it any wonder Christmas is one of the most stressful and expensive times of year? The pressure to outdo yourself is immense.

But have you ever stopped to think about how much your family actually values your time, your undivided attention? It’s not always the expensive gifts or the perfect turkey dinner that matter, instead it’s so often the meaningful memories you create with your family that, without wanting to sound cliché, will last a lifetime.

So to get your cogs turning, here are some ideas on how to save money, reduce stress and create lasting memories this Christmas …

1. Ask the young ones to plan and put on Christmas and see how much money you’ll save. You may be eating off paper plates and grandad might have to dress up as a reindeer, but it’s sure to be a memory you’ll never forget! Most children will relish the opportunity to be in charge – just imagine how their confidence will grow. This may not be an every year thing, but what’s the harm in trying?

2. Celebrate later and take advantage of the sales. Of course there’s special meaning in celebrating on the 25th, but you could do the usual celebrations on the day, just postpone presents until mid-January – when you could really do with some cheering up.

3. If you’re a parent, take your kids on a date. Make the big present to your child this year a trip to Sainsbury’s café for an uninterrupted hour drinking hot chocolate. It’s not fancy, but your kids will value that quality time so much more than any expensive gift, especially if time is one of their primary love languages.

4. Break with tradition. Who says you have to eat turkey and Christmas pudding? If your family’s favourite dinner is spaghetti bolognaise and ice-cream, why not start a new Christmas dinner tradition? Just think about it – would you rather have a less fancy meal and a happy family, or a perfect roast turkey dinner and a family stressed out from all the preparations? Plus, it’s a great money saver.

5. Only buy what you need. According to The Big Issue, two million turkeys, five million Christmas puddings and over 74 million mince pies go to waste every year in the UK. Use a portion planner tool to save the environment and your pocket by buying the right amount. And if you have leftovers, the OLIO app is a great tool for passing unwanted (but still perfectly good) food to someone who does want it.

6. If you’re unsure what to gift your family members, try giving them personal vouchers Have a think about things they’d really appreciate – offer to tidy their room, wash the dishes for a week or help with some repair work around the house – and give them a promise of your time.

7. Ok, admittedly this is a tip for next year, but buy your presents throughout the year, thus avoiding all the hiked prices in December. Just find a drawer, cupboard or box to store the gifts in, so you don’t forget about them

8. Tell each other what you actually want for Christmas and stop wasting money on unwanted gifts. Websites like Things To Get Me allow you to make wish lists for free and are easy to share with loved ones.

9. Stop buying chocolate, everyone has enough. How many boxes of Quality Street do you get at Christmas? Instead bring a bag of grapes or some pretzels – fruit and savoury snacks are sure to be appreciated after all that feasting and won’t be nearly as expensive.

10. If you’ve got kids, use Christmas to teach them about money. Many children learn by what you do, not what you say. So if you’re always telling your children to spend their money wisely, but at Christmas, they see you maxing out your credit card, they’re won’t be getting a consistent message. Instead explain that you may not be able to afford everything they want – it’s an important life lesson after all.

11. Go on a Christmas adventure. Imagine setting up a bonfire on the beach, barbequing sausages and drinking hot chocolate. Obviously this one is weather dependant, but if you’re wanting to spend less this Christmas, take the focus off the lack of presents by getting out the house and doing something completely different. What a Christmas to remember!

12. However, if you’re really struggling to get your Christmas spending under control, you should seek help. Rob Parson’s book The Money Secret is a very helpful read and covers everything from retail therapy addictions to debt collectors. CAP is another great organisation to approach if you’re battling with debt or poverty.

Some might be thinking ‘Take it easy Ebenezer’, but debt racked up at Christmas can have a massive financial impact on happy family life, so hopefully some of these ideas will help you and your family avoid overspending while still making the most of the holidays.

For more ideas and to join in with our Christmas fun, head over to our Instagram page or search #CFFBeALight

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