Money Matters Team

Adding festive spirit to your finances

By Money Matters Team 14/11/2013

Tis the season to be jolly. But how happy are you about your finances?

After all, Christmas and the new year are not far off.

UK households spend an average of £835¹ on festivities and 'much more' on New Year celebrations. Such an outlay is a significant amount so how can you go about budgeting for the big day?

Below are typical festive expenditures – and tips on how you can help keep them in check. 

Presents for friends and family. Ave. cost: £634¹

Christmas isn’t about splashing out on pricey pressies and you don’t need to overspend if you plan ahead. Set some limits and apply a bit of imagination. An option might be to buy only one present per person, snap up pre-Christmas deals or make home-made gifts – such as a family photo calendar for Mum or a jar of marmalade for the Grandparents. 

Looking for something affordable isn’t just for the imaginative either. According to YouGov.co.uk, the top three Christmas gifts bought by UK consumers are books, clothing and music/dvds.

Food and drink. Ave. cost: £161¹

We might not watch our waistlines at Christmas – but we can still watch our budgets. Plan ahead by considering how many people you'll cater for and work out the quantity of food you'll need over the festive period. If you're left with uneaten food such as mince pies and turkey, it’s a good idea to think about how much so you can reduce your measurements next year.

Cards, trees and decorations. Ave. cost: £40¹

Why not grow your own Christmas tree or make your own decorations. The kids will love planting their own tree and getting creative with the glitter. One of our family bloggers showed us how to make our own snow globe.

How will these items be paid for?

To help you afford some of these outgoings set and manage a Christmas budget. Here's a step-by-step guide:

1   Total spend. Make a list of Christmas outlays, including items such as gifts, cards, wrapping paper, travelling costs and decorations.

2   Work out how much you can afford. How much are you likely to be left with after your usual outgoings? Plan to stagger your expenditure over several months – e.g. from November to January - there are useful apps to help with this.

3    Stick to a budget. Once you have a fixed budget in mind, commit to it. If you're paying for costs from your savings, one option could be to set up a Standing Order from your personal account.

4    Be careful with your credit card. Again, budget control is important. Follow your budget, and stick to that amount with your credit card. Using a credit card responsibly and not going over any prearranged credit limits can contribute to you having a better credit score. Click on the following link to find out more about managing and improving your credit score.

5    Factor in bills and additional costs. Remember there are other payments to consider over the festive period such as gas and electricity bills, which may be higher over winter. You can also factor in extra spend if you're going away for Christmas in the UK or abroad – for example fuel, rail or airfares and accommodation costs.

A final thought…

Budget wisely but enjoy Christmas. After all, this time of year is supposed to be an occasion for enjoyment and celebration. By managing your annual spend effectively, you'll enjoy your Christmas even more, knowing that you've had the best time without going above your budget.

And the best part: Seeing the smile on the faces of those you care about when they open your gifts!

¹Yougov survey for Christmas 2012

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.

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