Five-Minute Guide to Keeping Christmas From Ruining the New Year

Five-Minute Guide to Keeping Christmas from Ruining the New Year

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but you want to avoid ending up with a financial hangover.

Although nobody likes to play Scrooge over the festive period there is no joy in racking up debts you cannot repay.  Many people feel obligated to spend money buying presents or throwing parties for people they do not really like, including family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.

’Tis the season to be jolly, but you also need to keep a clear head when managing your festive finances.

WRAP IT UP

The average family is set to spend a whopping $1015.00 on presents, food and drink this year, according to GoCompare.com.

Christmas is costly enough without spending money on people you do not like, but that is exactly what many of us do.  Guilt-ridden people will spend hard-earned money on gifts, cards and entertaining simply to avoid upsetting family and friends.  Nearly half of us visit people we would not normally see just because it is Christmas, while a quarter invite guests that they do not particularly like for dinner.

There is plenty you can do to rein in the cost, according to financial planning firm LemonadeMoney.com.

Managing partner David Pugh says: “Talk to your friends, family and colleagues to agree whether to exchange gifts this year. Some may welcome the opportunity to save a bit of money by opting out.”

You could also encourage your present-buying circle to consider a “secret Santa”.  “This way you buy only one present each and the sum is fixed,” he adds.

Set yourself a Christmas gift budget and divide it among those you still plan to give presents to. Pugh suggests: “Stick to gift ideas within that price range.”

If you are not seeing a particular friend or relative until after Christmas, you could save money by purchasing their gift in the post-holiday sales.

Rachel Springall, finance expert at MoneyFacts.co.uk, warns against giving gift cards with an expiry date as people may neglect to use them within the deadline: “For example, Ticketmaster gift cards expire in one year, M&S gift cards are valid for two years while Amazon gift cards are valid for 10 years. It might be simpler to give cash instead.”

Sanders says that used carefully, credit cards can also be an effective way of spreading the cost of your Christmas shopping: “Look for cards with generous interest-free periods on new purchases, which will give you time to pay off your Christmas spending without adding interest to the outstanding debt.”

EquiShare Credit Union offers several credit card options with a 0% introductory APR.  Some have cash rewards, some have travel rewards, and one even has an extended introductory period, giving you longer to pay off those holiday purchases interest-free.

He adds: “Budget wisely and only put on your card what you can afford to repay.”

Always compare prices before ordering holiday cards, using both brick and mortar stores such as Sam’s Club and Walgreen’s, as well as websites such as VistaPrint or Shutterfly.  Don’t forget to look for discount codes and vouchers from sites such as Groupon and RetailMeNot.

Matt Sanders at GoCompare.com Money recommends doing your dinner shopping as soon as you can, to avoid costly panic purchases.  “You can also save money by switching your food shopping to a cheaper supermarket, opting for chicken or other alternatives to ham, which is expensive, or getting relatives to bring some side dishes or to buy the drinks.”

Consider downloading the Flipp app, which contains all of the sale ads in your area and will highlight the best deals for you.  You can then pick your grocery store based on the best deals for your planned menu, or you could even plan your menu based on the sales.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

Now is the time to start planning for future festivities: It is important to get into the discipline of saving even small amounts of money every month.  

You can also save by stocking up on stocking stuffers and other timeless gifts as they go on sale throughout the year, beginning with post-holiday sales.  That way, you get the best possible price for each item and have less to buy during the holiday rush.

Saving over the course of the year is the most effective way to combat next year’s Christmas cash concerns.

OMNICOMMANDER