Is it too late to save for Christmas?

save money for Christmas

Christmas comes round at the same time every year, yet still takes some of us by surprise! We are now heading towards November, so is it too late to save for Christmas?

A financial headache

I have done Christmas on the credit cards before. The financial headache going into the new year wasn’t fun. The baubles and glitter have all gone, it’s cold and dark and you are scrabbling around to save money to pay for the festive excesses – and paying interest on it too! As I said, not fun!

I realised I had to save for Christmas, so since then I have always put away a small amount each month.

As I wrote back in August, it is always best to start early when it comes to Christmas. But if you haven’t, is it now too late to save for Christmas? If you make a massive effort you could still put some money away.

How to save for Christmas

Set a budget

Actually set two budgets. One for day to day living and the other for Christmas itself.

How little can you live on? Go through all expenses and cut out anything that’s not strictly essential (see below for ideas). You will be surprised at how little you can live on when your goal is to save for Christmas.

What do you actually need to buy for Christmas? Make a list of everyone you want to buy for and set a strict amount for everyone. If you spend £500 on each of your family but don’t have the money, have a rethink. It’s one day! Don’t put yourself into debt.

What will you eat? Set a shopping budget. Don’t plan to buy more than you can eat. Use last year’s decorations, send out e-cards rather than hundreds of Christmas cards, etc.

Pare down to the essentials

You can free up money to save for Christmas by reducing all inessential spending. It’s only for a few weeks and your goal is to have a worry free and debt free Christmas.

Here are a few ideas:

Cut unused gym memberships.

If you go out to dinner once or twice a week, cut it out and eat at home instead.

Give up on trips to the pub and buy some supermarket beer.

Knock takeaways on the head.

Reduce your TV package to the channels you actually watch.

Stop buying newspapers and magazines and read online instead.

Give up the take out tea or coffee and take a flask out with you.

Stop shopping for fun!

Have a no spend month

You might even decide to cut out spending money altogether. We often choose October or November as a no spend month. This means buying nothing at all apart from food and spending only on your bills. I find a no spend period, whether it is a whole month or just a week, really liberating. There is no debating whether you should buy or can afford something. You just don’t do it!

Having said that, I would allow Christmas spending during November as it can help to buy as you go along – using the budget you made, of course.

Find free stuff to do

Check out free things to do in your area and you may be surprised at how little you need to spend on entertainment.

Eat from the larder

Pull out every item in your food cupboards, fridge and freezer and plan meals around those. This can dramatically reduce your grocery spend and prevent food waste.

Plan every meal and shop with a list

Leading on from the above, plan your whole week’s meals. Then make a shopping list of only what you need and stick to it. I have a post on the benefits of meal planning here. If you can, leave the family at home so they don’t beg for extras and don’t go shopping hungry.

Sell your old stuff

This is a great time for a declutter. You might even be able to sell some of your old things on eBay or Facebook to put towards your Christmas fund.

A declutter can be massively liberating too, and will make space for new things that arrive at Christmas.

Go extreme

You could check out some of my more extreme ideas to save money for Christmas here. These will help you stretch your budget as much as possible.

What do you do to save money for Christmas? Are you ready? I haven’t bought as much as I usually have at this point, but most importantly I do have the money saved that I need to spend for Christmas. Hopefully these tips will help you and stop you getting into debt.

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7 thoughts on “Is it too late to save for Christmas?

  1. We have no spend months almost every month as by the time we’ve paid all the bills, put money in savings and pensions, and allowed money for school trips etc there is nothing left. If we need anything then it comes out of the savings pot but we have to really need things before that happens. We save all our rewards from Waitrose, Sainsbury, Coop, Morrison’s etc and that’s our Christmas budget for all our food. We allow £100 for Son and Daughter and £50 each for my parents, mother in law and my sister. Close friends get hampers of homemade food like jams, chutneys, sweets etc. Nieces and nephews. of which we have four. get £10 each That’s it! Husband doesn’t give to his sister or brother in law. We come out of Christmas with no debt and get on with life in the New Year.

  2. My extended family doesn’t give gifts to one another, as there are just too many of us. My close family: children & grandchildren, we have a sort of lucky dip secret santa with a cap on how much we can spend, so we only buy one present each. Breakfast “bring a plate”. It has made life much easier. I am planning to make body oils for the friends who give me gifts, as I already have the essential oils. It’s very casual here in New Zealand at Christmas, as it’s summer, and many families have stopped doing the big Christmas roast meal.

  3. I’ve just gone through all my past year Christmas supplies & decorations and the only items I really need to buy are some more cards and I’ll get them this week, plus I need a few tins or boxes which I will buy at the dollar store.
    I’ve been cutting back more and more on the gift giving and most of my friends are in complete agreement. We try to stick to consumables – HM and bought or a combination of the two.
    I now have some great nieces (no children of my own) so I’ve decided to go through the Safety Deposit box and find a few pieces of jewelry to pass along as family keepsakes. There is a child’s string of pearls and a couple of lockets that have special meaning so it’s time and I hope they will be appreciated – by their mom’s at least.
    Otherwise I’ll do brunch for a few friends (no more parties for 40) and keep all other spending to a minimum.

  4. I think making a few rules and sticking to them works well. My husband was an only child and my sister and I quit exchanging gifts 30 years ago. Our parents are all deceased. It’s just my husband, myself, our daughter (who is developmentally disabled) and our son and daughter-in-law, who do not have children. I do not give gifts to friends and neighbors.

    When the kids were young, we established a 3-present rule. With gifts from their grandparents and each other, they had plenty to open. It also told us when to STOP BUYING..with little kids, it’s easy to go overboard. Since we don’t have grandchildren, we have stuck with the 3-present rule since it’s a bit more fun than only one item. I then assign a budget for each person. In general, it’s $125-$150 per person, which we can afford.

    I started giving my son at least one used gift each year when he was in his 20s and making fun of my frugal nature. Now, he expects it, and has realized this is where some of his best gifts have come from. I’ve bought high-end kitchen knives for him on ebay, used books on Amazon, and a host of other things. I just bought him two dinner plates on ebay for one of his gifts this Christmas.

    Last year, I started making a few Christmas gifts, and everyone gets at least one of the three. I have no particular abilities, just basic sewing and cooking skills. I’ve given my son “dinner and a movie”–a homemade lasagne, salad greens, loaf of French bread and a gift card to rent a movie. Last year I made my daughter a fancy pillow (with sequined Mickey Mouse applique I cut off a worn-out sweater), a pair of flannel pajamas and and a pair flannel pillowcases. My daughter-in-law got an apron made out of one leg of an old pair of jeans and matching potholder. This year I’ve already made her a shower wrap made from a bath towel (took 20 minutes to make) and my son will be getting a batch of his favorite cookies. We are mainly giving them ca$h this year because they are saving for their first home, plus two used or homemade gifts.

    As for my husband…I have no idea!

    PS, in lieu of grandchildren, I’m filling two shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

    • I love all of that. I agree about rules. We do secret Santa for the adults as I have a large family and around £20 each for nephews and nieces. I also give used gifts and the odd home made one

    • I always give my kids one second hand gift – usually a book as they are avid readers. And I don’t wrap it so they KNOW it is second hand. I feel strongly about this and I’m pretty sure they don’t mind.

  5. I have a Christmas account and squirrel away a bit each month into it. I also use it for DS’s birthday a few days after Christmas and his birthday takeaway meal.
    If I pick up gifts early I may or may not transfer the amount back into the account from it, depending on how flush we are and how expensive the gift was ie I didn’t bother doing that for the £6 hot water bottle I picked up for DD a few weeks ago!

    I also save Nectar points to help pay for the biggest Sainsbury’s food shop, but the same could apply for buying gifts too.

    If you have an Iceland Bonus card they’re doing their shop 5 times between 24 Oct & 25 Nov (spending £25 min per shop) and they’ll add £10 to your card for Christmas. I shop there weekly spending that to get the free delivery anyway, so the bonus usually pays for our turkey!

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