According to many people, Christmas is a holiday reserved for the month of December, and for only 12 days. For the vast majority of retailers, however, Christmas begins as soon as Halloween ends, last year’s decorations are dusted off, and Christmas gifts begin to be advertised.
If you’re one of the early birds, here are a few tips to get you started.
Make a budget (and check it twice). Things to include are food, presents, Christmas decorations, entertainment and any Christmas travelling. You have to be firm, however – all it takes is one quick browse through the Christmas section at Dunnes to throw your carefully planned budget out of the window.
Once you’ve got your budget sorted, you can then calculate how much you’ll need to save between now and then. There’s still five weeks until the big day, so there’s plenty of time to get it together. Stuck for ideas on how you can save some money? Follow our top ten frugal tips, part I and part II.
Avoid borrowing to pay for Christmas, particularly from payday lenders – they come with high interest rates and often target the vulnerable. January will thank you for it, and you won’t have to pay any associated interest or loan fees.
Switch the shopping. Tesco and Dunnes are sure to have some Christmas deals, but it’s generally hard to beat Lidl or Aldi for prices, particularly for the Brussels sprouts.
Consider a Christmas clear out to add to your savings pile. DoneDeal, Adverts.ie, Buy and Sell and eBay are great places to sell your unwanted clutter (presuming someone else would like it), and generate some extra Christmas cash. And, considering the holiday, you could also donate some of your unwanted items to charities like Oxfam, the Irish Cancer Society, Focus Ireland and Enable Ireland – this won’t earn you money for the Christmas fund, but it’s in the spirit at least.
Cut the present list. The Christmas list can get pretty broad very quickly. Cut it down to family and close friends, though perhaps you could stretch to something small for the postman. Once you’ve narrowed it down, you can start your online research in the hunt for better prices. If you’ve got an idea or see something in a shop, check it out on Amazon or eBay – if could be cheaper to buy online and you’ll get it shipped straight to your door. You could also agree spending limits with your loved ones – after all, it’s the thought and not the amount counts.
Go homemade with your decorations. If you’ve got kids, not only will it save you money, it might also keep them busy for a few hours!