Advice for how to budget and manage your spending this Christmas and a prize draw to win £100 in vouchers
It’s difficult not to get sucked into the commercial element of Christmas; the shops transform into winter wonderlands and seemingly ordinary items that you wouldn’t consider buying suddenly have an appeal thanks to the Christmas packaging. Here are some of our tips to help you enjoy the holiday season without hurting the bank balance.
Saving up for Christmas
At the start of January I blogged about a campaign the Office of Fair Trading launched to encourage people to save up for Christmas all throughout the year. I’m not sure how successful the campaign was, but I think we can all agree that saving is a great idea and if you didn’t manage to save this year then you might want to consider it for Christmas/New Year 2012/2013.
Okay, so it’s October now and if you haven’t managed to save up a sizeable amount of Christmas funds, then you can still be smart about your Christmas shopping with a little bit of planning and research.
Research your Christmas gift list online first
Online shopping can be a great way to make savings. Lots of online stores can afford to sell items cheaper than on the high street because their overheads are lower. Having said that, there are still many of you who prefer to buy in person but that doesn’t mean online shopping sites can’t help you! Most high street stores have websites so you can compare the prices from one store to another and remember – price comparison websites aren’t just about insurance, some of them can also compare electrical items and other gifts.
Quick tip: type the name of the product you want to buy into Google and view “shopping results”.
Make a shopping list
This might sound like an obvious tip but after you’ve done your research online you should then make a list of all the items you want to buy and where has the best price. Christmas is one of those times of the year when it’s easy to let your spending get out of control because you’re buying gifts for lots of different people and it can be hard to keep track of where you’re up to. Having a list will help you keep your focus and steer you in the right direction. In theory, a list should also stop you from buying things that you don’t need.
Look out for special offers and deals
Retailers are all competing to get you to spend in their stores and sometimes you can use this to your advantage. However not all “special offers” are great value. As I’ve mentioned above, make a list and stick to it but if you have something on your list which is available from a number of different retailers, then it’s worth looking out for “free gift” offers or bundles. Many of the big name make-up counter brands offer free gifts if you buy two items so if you’re stocking up on your favourite lipstick you could pick up a beauty gift absolutely free.
Another trend I’ve seen recently is video game bundles. I recently ordered a copy of the latest Batman video game and I managed to find a package that included the video game plus two DVDs of the recent Batman films – all for the same price as some other retailers were selling the game alone for!
Is a gift set better value for money?
This tip relates to the research element. A festively-packaged gift set can be very alluring and sometimes they can be great value for money. If you’re looking at a perfume gift set, check the price of the perfume on its own to make sure you’re not being ripped off. It’s also worth remembering that festive gift sets are often the first thing to be reduced in the sales. So if you don’t mind waiting until after Christmas Day, you could save even more.
Christmas and IVAs: Can I take a payment break in my IVA for Christmas?
Unfortunately for people in IVAs it is not usually permitted to grant payment breaks for Christmas. This is because by the terms of the IVA you cannot miss more than two payments without putting yourself in breach of the terms. If you were to take a payment break each Christmas in your IVA this would total five months. Additionally if you were granted a payment break then you could be forced to increase your payments to make up any arrears, which in the longterm doesn’t seem quite worth it. Remember, although you may like a payment break over Christmas, there may be a time in the future duration of your IVA where you need it more.
Share your Christmas Shopping Tips and win £100 vouchers
Do you have any Christmas shopping tips to share? Leave a comment below and we’ll be picking one lucky commenter to win an £100 shopping voucher to add to their Christmas shopping funds!
Update – A big thank you to all who left their Christmas shopping tips. We have chosen a winner at random and they have been notified.