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How to Plan your Christmas Spend

With the cost of living crisis now really beginning to bite, it’s more important than ever to plan ahead when it comes to Christmas. The festive holiday season can be wonderful, but also one of the most expensive times of the year once you factor in the costs of gifts, Christmas food, decorations, travel, party outfits and more.

Christmas planning

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The good news is, there are plenty of ways to save money at Christmas and keep track of your budget. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Discover preloved!

Buy second-hand items for gifts or try making your own. You can get great gifts on websites such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace, charity shops or jumble sales. Second-hand gifts work particularly well with younger children who are often more interested in the wrapping paper than the contents! Another approach is to gift one new item but supplement it with second-hand finds – preloved books or toys can make great stocking fillers for example.

2. Set a maximum budget

… And then stick to it. It’s all too easy to overspend at Christmas because there are so many demands on your money, combined with sale deals. But by setting a budget and then recording your festive spending you can remain in control. An old-fashioned notepad can help you to see patterns in your spending.

3. Talk about money with your family

It’s sensible to talk to your friends and family about how much you are planning to spend this year – if at all. For example, for siblings, you could agree to a ‘Secret Santa’, or simply agree to have a fun day together, or a film night with popcorn! Pressure to make other people happy is often a reason that people overspend, but the things that really matter at Christmas are time spent together. If you don’t want to overspend, then consider making vouchers for your loved ones, such as for a night’s babysitting or a home-cooked meal.

4. Use cashback apps

Whether you spend online, or in-store, try to use any available rewards, cashback or points schemes. For example, most supermarkets have their own points scheme so that you earn a balance against your usual spending. This can then be swapped for a money-off voucher. These schemes add up over time, so if you always do spend at a certain supermarket, be sure to benefit from any cashback scheme it has available!

5. Have a contingency plan

Even with good planning, it’s very easy to overspend. Have a backup plan in case you do overspend and need emergency access to cash  As an example, you might want to take out a short-term loan as an option for handling any unexpected spending over the holiday period. It’s important to know how you will repay the loan in full though. You can find out more at

Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help go to

6. Shop a brand down

Food shopping is a major cost, so shop for a brand down to save more money, and hunt down end-of-day markdowns and bargains on ‘wonky’ fruit and veg. The more you can cook from scratch, the cheaper it will be too. A slow cooker is usually far cheaper to run than an oven and it makes cheaper cuts of meat extremely tender and delicious.

7. Sign up for emails and alerts

Sign up for newsletters with your favourite brands, download apps and follow stores on social media to get details of special offers, early sales access and so forth. Many food and drink stores offer a free incentive when you first download their app, for example.