How to stay happy and debt-free this Christmas

A detailed five-point checklist to help you enjoy the festive season and be financially secure, now and into the New Year.

Culture

The trees are up, the lights are lit - and despite the Omicron concerns, Christmas is still bringing all the festive feels. Along with it comes the season of serious spending, and it’s hard to hold back when we’re bombarded with messages to buy and treat our loved ones. However, without coming over all Scrouge, we’re advising a little financial mindfulness as the season of giving really gets going.

We may feel, though, it’s easy to just let our inner Santa loose and spend freely in December. Only problem is we’ll invariably come crashing back down to earth in January when the bank balance says it’s beans on toast for the rest of the month.

With more of us talking openly about our finances, salaries and expenditure, it’s no bad thing to consider where our hard-earned cash is going. To stop the seasonal overspend, there are some simple yet effective techniques that can help you budget. Here’s our top five.

   1. Set a budget

Make a list and check it twice. Who are you buying for, and what is your spending limit? The important thing is to consider what your budget is right at the start and avoid changing it if you come across something else that’s more eye-catching (i.e. expensive). Spreadsheets to keep on track are your best friends here.

   2. Shop around for the best deals

There’s no excuse not to find the best price given we have access to every shop front on our smartphones. Put in the research time and your bank balance will thank you for it. Remember to factor in shipping and delivery costs. It’s also worth checking out cash back rewards and purchases that have extended returns.

   3. Consider your ‘emotional’ spending habits

This is a deeply embedded part of how we shop, whether we realise it or not. It’s hard to resist the magnetic lifestyles we see on Instagram, from influencers or brands. Really consider what you need, not the dream that’s being sold to you. Opt out of mailing lists, unsubscribe or mute accounts that make you feel like your Christmas won’t live up to their standards.

   4. Avoid last-minute panic buying

Yup, get in there early. You might not be the type to shop for Christmas presents in the January sales, but don’t leave it until the eleventh hour either! That urgency to tick off your list means you’re likely to ignore your budget and choose convenience over cost. Set timers, set deadlines and double-check last day deliveries from online companies.

   5. Use tech to help for Christmas - and the future

Staying on top of your finances is not just for Christmas. The best way to budget and manage your money is through tech. Starling Bank is an online only app which splits your money into pots, so you can create a list and distribute cash to each person on your Christmas list. Other companies also offer ways that help you manage your money, providing automated savings and tasks to make it less time consuming, giving you a clearer picture of your money landscape. It’s something to take into the new year too. Check out @rainchq, created by Davinia Tomlinson, who offers financial advice, investment options and even monthly affirmations to help cement healthy spending habits.

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