It’s that time of year again – Halloween and Bonfire Night are over and done with and it’s time to face up to the inevitable reality that Christmas is once again truly upon us!
Ah yes, Christmas… a time of glad tidings and ever-increasing bills. Whether it’s the cost of the weekly shop being that bit more every week, or the children going through catalogues and wanting “one of them… and one of them… and definitely one of them” – it can all feel like one big headache.
But don’t panic! There’s lots we can try to do to keep our finances under control and make Christmas more affordable. Here’s my top five tips!
1/ Start buying a bit each week. December 25th is over a month away, so start spreading the cost now! Little stocking fillers, crackers, crisps, nuts, selection boxes etc. Keep an eye out across the different supermarkets – often they are all trying to out-do each other with better deals. You can even do this from the comfort of your computer! Visit http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/ and you can compare prices on all kinds of items at shops including Asda, Tesco and Sainsburies. It allows you to buy online, right there and then too!
2/ Take advantage of the ‘Buy one, get one free’ offers. Either put the spare in the freezer or stock cupboard, or go halves with someone if you won’t use two of the same thing. Word to the wise though, unless you’re buying a frozen one, don’t get the turkey yet!
3/ Wrap up the little gifts (e.g. books, crayons) separately. Kids love having lots to unwrap, and if you take the time to make sure they’re wrapped up beautifully, you can make those little, inexpensive pressies seem really special.
4/ Club together with other family members to make bigger purchases. Better still, use the fact that the economy is constantly in the news as a way to suggest to your wider family that maybe it’s time to break the habit of buying for every Tom, Dick and Harry. Also, it’s a good way of introducing the idea of priorities to the children. Ask them what it is that makes Christmas really special, and see where they’d be happy to compromise.
5/ As soon as the holiday’s over, why not open a savings account and put away a few pounds each week? You’ll be surprised how quickly it mounts up and how big a help it will be when Christmas rolls around next year. If you live in Manchester, and particularly if you’re a Northwards Housing tenant, the Credit Union is the ideal place to do this as they come to each of the Northwards offices once a week to collect. Check them out at http://www.manchestercreditunion.co.uk/, drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org give them a call on 0161 231 5222.
Remember, too, that rent or mortgage payments are always priority, whatever the time of year. The best gift anyone can offer their family is a safe and secure home!