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Money Matters Blog – staying out of debt at Christmas

Most of us like to spoil our friends and families at Christmas but the costs can mount up very quickly. Here are some ideas for getting the most from your hard-earned money:

  • If clothes and accessories are what you are looking for, it is worth looking at sites like Vinted or online charity shops such as the Devon Air Ambulance. Filter on the quality brand you want and ‘New with Tags’ and you will be astonished at what you can find for very little money.
  • Set an agreed low budget with family / friends and challenge them to be as imaginative as possible. What can you get for a fiver?!
  • Split gift packs so that each item becomes a gift for a different person. If they are small things, then pop them into Christmas gift bags with a few other little items. (A pretty bag containing some festive sweets, a sachet of hot chocolate and a good quality book from the charity shop – now that’s my idea of a Christmas Lucky Bag.)
  • Presents in kind – make up some vouchers. For example, you agree to babysit for your friend and then s/he offers to do your ironing. It may not be wrappable but in difficult times, presents like these are very acceptable.
  • Home-made presents – if you are sufficiently talented, then jars of homemade jams or chutneys make super presents, especially with a little bit of Christmas fabric around the top. Hand-knitted, hand-sewn or personalised garments show thought and care, too.
  • Secret Santa – great for large groups of friends or family. Set a limit, pull a name out the hat and buy only one present. Job done!
  • Christmas themed gifts – Christmas napkins, boxes of Christmas crackers or little tea-light stocking fillers. Just pretty.
  • Christmas Dinner Bring and Share – ask everyone to do something towards your Christmas Dinner. Someone brings the pudding; another a dish of roast potatoes; someone else the beloved Brussels Sprouts or a bottle of wine, and so on. Takes away the stress, too.
  • No presents at all? Sort of. Arrange a festive lunch or dinner out with family / friends rather than giving individual presents. This could work out less expensive and give you all some quality time together: a rare present in these busy times.
  • Post overseas early so you can select the slowest and cheapest rate and your parcel will still arrive in time for Christmas.
Two children eating cookies at christmas

Is it too early to start thinking about next year? Well, not necessarily, especially when budgeting carefully. Who wants Christmas with a rotten old bill to pay at the end?! Not us, that’s for sure.

  • Go Christmas shopping! Buy next year's cards, gift bags and wrapping paper now, when the shops are selling off the seasonal merchandise. Squirrel these away for next December. Look out for pressie bargains throughout the year, too, and add them to your secret stash.
  • Save! Dropping coins into a jar throughout the year could really mount up. Decide on which sort of coin you are going to collect (perhaps 50p pieces or £2 coins) and the jar will get heavier and heavier.
  • Save! This may work for more than just Christmas – look into opening a Credit Union account. A credit union gives you secure, protected savings as well as the opportunity to borrow money at a very low interest rate should you need to. Certainly worth looking at. Here’s one we recommend: Westcountry Savings and Loans
  • Save! Payroll saving – your employer may have a Christmas savings account scheme, through your payroll. Ask your HR or Finance team for some information and see if that might be your route to a really good Christmas without the worry.

However you decide to spend Christmas, we hope it will be a very happy one.

Xmas savings jar of coins