Plan ahead and avoid a Christmas debt hangover

DECEMBER is here and Christmas is drawing near. It may be ‘ho ho ho’ for Santa Claus and his reindeers, but with household budgets being severely squeezed at this time of year, you can bet that not everyone is feeling so jolly.

That’s why is it so important not to let spending on decorations, presents, food and booze get out of control. Instead try to really plan ahead. This is the only way to have a happy holiday season and not wake up to a debt hangover come the New Year.

Tackle the present situation first. Decide who is getting presents and who isn’t. Will you keep it to children only this year? Or will your family decide to do Secret Santa, where you draw names out of a hat so that everyone has to buy only one gift. If a maximum price is set in advance, this can be an effective way of keeping costs down. The sooner you begin thinking about getting presents out the of the way, the cheaper it will be and you can also then see how much of your budget is left for other things.

Buy some presents after Christmas. Do you have some family members you won’t see until after Christmas? Be cheeky and buy gifts in the January sales and you can save some money.

Kid-free shopping. Do leave the children at home when you go shopping. The bright lights, Christmas music, chocolates and mountains of toys will only make them hyperactive with excitement and you can be sure their pester power will wear you down into buying something you don’t need.

Bring your own. If the tradition is that everyone calls over to your house during Christmas, then maybe shake things up a bit this year by making it a BYO Party. Ask each guest to bring a little something – crackers and cheese, a bottle of wine or some nice jamon. A food bill shared out among all the visiting family and friends will be a lot easier to stomach.

Avoid credit cards. Never use a credit card for shopping, use cash. If you don’t have the cash then you should not be spending money. Nobody wants to receive a present that leaves a person in the red.

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