Our guide to budgeting over the holiday season

Jacqueline Cohen, Marketing Manager at ClearDebt, gives her top tips for managing your money throughout Christmas and making sure everybody has a good time without overspending.

ClearDebt’s Marketing Manager, Jacqueline Cohen, full time working mum, gives us her guide to managing your budget over the Christmas holidays.

For many of us, 24 December is not only Christmas Eve, but also the day we finish work for a week – a whole week! But when it’s freezing outside and we have the temptation of the sales, kids to entertain and mouths to feed – how far do we justify stretching our spending budget in the season of cheer?

How much money is spent over Christmas

This Christmas will see 5.5 million Britons (11% of the population) going into debt – primarily to buy gifts they can’t afford. In fact, according to insurer Bright Grey, they claim the average adult will have spent 45% of their take home pay on items for Christmas in October, November and December of this year – come on now, am I the only person who thinks that’s a little ridiculous?

Bright Grey also say their research indicates much of the spending is done because they believe most gifts to be of high value – long gone are the days where a nice pair of socks or gloves would qualify as a good present and instead, people are paying into the hundreds for new phones and game consoles which still only count for one of many of the presents they buy for their loved ones.

On top of this, you then have to fill the holidays with entertainment for the family – going to the cinema to see the latest Christmas blockbuster is likely to set a family of four back around £60 if you include the car parking, drinks and sweets; and a day out could easily cost well over £100. So what to do?

Budget ideas for holiday season entertainment

For those on a budget – why not start the New Year as you mean to go on? The right frame of mind, the right finances and the right sense of money management. Days out spending your hard earned money can easily be replaced by seeing friends and family in each others’ homes, and for those with kids, why not replace play centres with home activities such as painting or, as my daughter often reminds me, playdough time! Even baking can be great fun, and at least you all have something to enjoy afterwards with a much needed cup of tea!

Save money on your gift giving

And as far gifts go, if you haven’t already bought for the entire neighbourhood – why not look at some home made gifts? Even writing a card with a genuine thought or kind wish for the person you’re sending it to can sometimes be more valuable to the receiver than a present they don’t really need. It’s amazing how few people manage to write in their cards anything more than the standard “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” message. I sometimes wonder if those I buy and send cards to, appreciate the words I write more than the gifts, because the words are heart felt – and at what better time of year to give someone thanks for the friendship they give to you, than at Christmas. Yet another thing, that costs you only time and effort rather than money.

Don’t be tempted by the January sales

Finally – the ever attractive January Sales – don’t do it!!! No matter how cheap something is, if you don’t need it, it’s still more than you need to spend. The sales are a great activity to do if you genuinely need things for the year ahead. But if this is the case, go shopping with a plan – a list of exactly what you need to buy and a budget for how much you can genuinely afford to spend – and no matter what happens or what you see, don’t divert from the list!

Good luck! Wishing you all well over the holiday season,


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