Things you can do now to help fund the festive period
Like it or not Christmas is on its way. Research from the Money Advice Service revealed that the average UK adult was planning to spend £530 on Christmas last year, so we know it can be an expensive time for our members. But fear not - to help you get a head start we've put together some tips on how to fund the festive period.
Set up a Christmas Fund
Get a clear idea of how much your Christmas is likely to cost you by using this really useful Christmas Planner from the Money Advice Service.
Take an honest look at the total cost. What can you actually afford to spend this year? When you have a better idea of your budget, decide how much you can realistically save every month between now and Christmas and stick to it.
Automate it: Why not set-up a BCU Christmas Saver, and transfer the amount as soon as you get paid so you are not tempted to spend it on something else? Or if you work for one of our Employer Partners, you can save directly from your pay.
Sell old stuff
Declutter and make money to boost your Christmas budget at the same time. Toys, books, electricals and clothes -anything you no longer need or want can be sold for a few pounds - and it soon mounts up.
Local selling groups on Facebook are brilliant for this - try Toytastic, or another selling group in your area. Or why not try online marketplaces like Gumtree or Shpock, which don’t charge a fee when you sell items, unlike Ebay. But make sure you stash your profits away!
We don't mean give up on Christmas altogether (although it might be tempting!). Instead you could introduce a takeaway ban from now until Christmas, or give up that morning latte. We love the Money Saving Expert's demoHOHOtivatecalculator ,which tells you how much you could save by cutting out non-essentials. Make sure you transfer what you would have spent on these things into your Christmas fund, to give your budget a boost.
Make a no-spend / low-spend pact
Get in early and talk to friends and family. If you can’t afford to splash out this Christmas, now’s the time to say something - you’ll probably find other people are in the same boat. How about only buying for kids? Or setting a £5 limit per person?
If you have a large extended family, why not organise a family secret Santa, or buy a present that the whole family can enjoy?
You could also get family members to contribute money to big-ticket items on your child’s wish list, using a gift list service like Patchwork Present.
Give Santa a budget
You might feel like you have to get your kids everything on their Christmas list, but try treating it more like a ‘wish list’, rather than a shopping list. Let your little ones know that the list helps give Father Christmas some ideas to choose from. Alternatively, why not try the ‘four gift rule which is: “something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read”. It’s a great way to keep the list under control, and helps you stick to a budget.
Spread the cost
Supermarkets like Asda and Morrisons offer Christmas saving cards or stamps, which you can top-up at the checkout, or online. Not only can it help you spread the cost of your Christmas shop, but some of the supermarkets offer bonus points when you top up with certain amounts, meaning your budget gets a boost. But remember, these schemes don’t have protection like credit union (or bank) savings, and you need to spend your savings at the specific store. Checkout Moneysavingsexpert’s guide on how these schemes work.
Buy Christmas food now
Start adding the odd Christmas treat to your weekly shop between now and Christmas, but only if you know you won’t tuck in before the big day. Set up a Christmas cupboard and gradually fill it with festive favourites with a long shelf-life like mince pies, chocolates or Christmas pudding.
If you start your Christmas shopping early, you have time to compare prices using comparison websites like Kelkoo. You could even get cashback on your purchases through websites like TopCashback and Quidco. Or why not shop with a friend and take advantage of the many 3 for 2 offers on the high street, and split the cost?
Big department stores and supermarkets often offer extra incentives to help boost loyalty points in the run up to Christmas, giving you more to spend come December.
Tip: Make sure you keep a list of everything you’ve bought so you don’t end up buying the same item twice!
Got more ideas to add to this list? Share them with us on Twitter with the hashtag #LowCostXmas, or over on our Facebook page.