Another guest post from Ryan at Compare Annuity who help support the site. Many people get so hooked on the Christmas giving bandwagon that they get themselves into some serious financial trouble and so it’s important to keep an eye on those expenses in December leading up to the big day. Interested to hear your Christmas saving ideas, please post them in the forum.
As Christmas approaches, the average person in the UK is expected to spend around £500 on Christmas gifts, food and drink over the festive period. There’s huge pressure to live up to a happy Christmas surrounded by amazing gifts and rich, indulgent (and often expensive!) food and drink, as seen on the multitude of ads that have bombarded our TV screens.
The reality is, not all of us can afford the Christmas Day that we’re ‘expected’ to have – one in eight Brits are expected to be in debt come January. It doesn’t have to be this way; if you’re on a low income, benefits or a low value annuity, or if you just feel you need to live up to a certain expectation, there are steps you should take to ensure a financially stress-free festival season.
Many people receive their pay at the end of November and immediately have a whole bunch of gifts, food, drinks and decorations to buy. By thinking about things earlier in the year, you split the cost of Christmas over a longer period, and can even pick up bargains on Christmas items if you can find them in stores.
If you’re really prepared, you can pick up Christmas decorations, cards and crackers ridiculously cheap in January, and store them for the following year.
Set a budget
Speak with your significant other about how much you’re willing to spend, not just on the presents, but on everything – food, drink, decorations. Then, look for bargains wherever you can.
Turkey too expensive in Waitrose? Check out Asda or the local butchers. Can’t afford a certain gift? Look elsewhere, or take advantage of special offers (such as Boots’ 3 for 2 deal).
Don’t buy gifts
Martin Lewis of Moneysavingexpert has long been an advocate of this; as the Grinch once pondered, “maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more”.
While gift giving is an essential part of Christmas for most – and we’re not saying to not buy any presents for anybody – it’s worth really thinking about who you’re buying for, and speak to them about whether they want to do gifts rather than the two of you simply assuming. Most people spend a lot at Christmas – taking the burden of another gift exchange away from somebody could be helping them out as much as you.
Not everybody needs the gifts you buy them, so it’s better for all involved to have an open and honest conversation about whether it’s worth spending the money in the first place purely out of habit and tradition.
Ryan Smith writes on behalf of Compare Annuity – an annuity calculator to get the best annuity rates for those approaching retirement.