Once again Christmas is fast approaching, causing many of us to exclaim in dismay, not because we don’t like Christmas, but because of all the financial strings that are attached to it. According to the Centre for Retail Research, on average families spend £800 on Christmas, with some far exceeding that figure, so it is no wonder that money is one of our first considerations when we think of the holiday. It isn’t simply a matter of buying thoughtful gifts for everyone, but there is also the cost of food, travel and all those surprise social events that come with the season. It leaves many of us torn between the desire to save money and go into 2020 without a financial hangover, or to enjoy the season by finding a way to make ends meet. So with that in mind, here are five ways to ensure you can buy the things you need to, without suffering for it in the New Year.
This isn’t a magic solution to finding hundreds of pounds, but planning in detail for the coming expenses can help you save a surprising amount and work out exactly how you are going to afford everything. Begin by writing down everything you want to buy, from gifts and stocking fillers, to food and drink and even the increase in the heating bill from having everyone at home. PC Mag has put together this useful list of 9 apps to help organize your holiday gift lists, which might help you to get started. Then work out how much you can realistically afford to spend, without going into debt. Try to be as specific as you possibly can. If you can’t afford everything on the list, and let’s face it most of us can’t, begin by crossing off anything that isn’t essential; those things that we want but don’t need to have a happy Christmas. If you can get the cost down and find a way to afford everything then you are all set. However, if the figures still don’t add up then work out how much more you need and most importantly, when you will have that money. Don’t borrow any money without knowing how and when you are going to pay it back. The pressure on us at Christmas can be overwhelming, but it isn’t worth getting into severe financial problems over.
Interest-free credit card
It might be tempting to simply use your credit cards to cover anything extra you need to pay, but at this time of year there are a lot of 0% interest offers out there that might be a better option. This would mean you can avoid paying unnecessary interest and have less to pay when you clear the balance. If you have a clear plan to pay off the credit card, it can be a good option for making ends meet. If you have to use your credit cards, make sure you don’t go over the limit and repay at least the minimum amount to avoid unnecessary charges.
Store cards and buy-now-pay-later deals can be very tempting, especially when you are making impulse purchases, but in general they do not make financial sense. The interest rate tends to be quite high, with plenty of hidden fees to catch you out if you struggle to repay the balance. However, there are some deals that can make it worthwhile, such as cashback offers or short term interest-free promotions. Again, don’t sign up unless you have a clear plan for paying back the money, no matter how tempting the offers might be.
Known as the unofficial start to the Christmas shopping season, Black Friday and the Cyber Weekend may be hectic, but there are some amazing deals to be found during this period, whether you brave the high street and shopping centres or shop online in the safety of your own home. You do need to use your common sense to decipher which ones are genuine deals, but Which? have put together a short guide for how to check if a Black Friday deal is real. If there is anything in particular that you have your eye on, such as children’s gifts or electronics, shop with these in mind. It can be a little overwhelming when there are so many deals out there, so it is a good idea to have a plan of action.
If you own a car without any financing, taking out a logbook loan might be the ideal solution to help finance Christmas. The loan is secured against your car, but you can still drive it and use it as you normally would. Depending on the value of the vehicle, you could borrow £500 to £50,000 and no formal credit checks will be carried out, so even if you have bad credit this financing could still be an option. The interest is Pay As You Go, so if you decide to pay it off early you will only be charged for the time you had the loan. As with any loan, you should only apply if you are certain you can make the repayments and understand the consequences of missed payments. If it is a suitable financing option for you, a logbook loan from CarCashPoint could ensure you have a very happy Christmas.