This blog post contains affiliate links, which will have (aff) after the link. No, not the C word. Well, right now, the other C-word! I know many of us are just taking it one day at a time and might be doing Christmas on a shoestring budget this year. However, you will still need a small pot of money to pay for everything. Whether we’re in lockdown or not, presents, food, decorations, wrapping and socialising (well, maybe not in 2020) will all still be needed now more than ever. Each category might not be a lot on its own but it soon adds up. Learning how to budget for Christmas 2020 can be a game changer.
In my household since I became an adult, my parents and I have had the agreement that we buy each other cheaper but useful gifts. This usually compromises of socks and toiletries for the most part, with pyjamas, sweets and the odd DVD as extra gifts. Whilst they might not seem like the most exciting presents, they’re useful. I don’t really enjoy doing toiletry shopping. This way, I can get someone else to get them for me! The best part is you know they will get used too!
Along the way, I’ve picked up a few tricks on how to budget for Christmas 2020. I’ve rounded up how I do it myself so these tips are definitely tried and tested. They’re easy, simple fixes you can make today and still have an amazing Christmas time whilst saving some pennies. What’s not to love about that?
WORK OUT HOW MUCH YOU CAN AFFORD TO SPEND
There’s nothing worse than going into debt just for Christmas. If you can’t afford to buy for as many people as usual, just be honest with them. You’ll probably find they’re cutting back too, most people are right now! It can be a good idea to set a total budget spend for all gifts but also set limits with friends and family. Maybe you normally do £20 max but half that for this year? You can buy some amazing gifts for £10 (my go-to is a mug filled with their favourite sweets and hot drink sachets!). You just have to get creative!
SORT THROUGH YOUR FINANCES
Having a month stuck indoors is the perfect time to sit down on your own, with your partner or with your family and go through your finances. It’s not the most fun job in the world but it’s a necessity. Nowadays, we have to be so savvy and on top of our money.
The main area to look at are your outgoings. Obviously, some things cannot change such as mortgage or rent but can you try to reduce your bills? There are so many price comparison websites out there for utilities, internet, phone and insurances! Also, are there any other monthly expenses that you’re not really using? If you do use them, keep them. If you don’t, cancel them!
Next up is to look at your day-to-day spending. Being at home for at least another month should save you some money but can that continue all the time? Simply taking a hot drink in a flask and lunch to work most days will save something.
My process of going through my finances involves a budget planner, a calculator and highlighters. You might prefer to create a spreadsheet or print off your bank statements. It’s so important to know what you’re spending nowadays and it pays to be alert. You might even be able to get increased savings interest rates at your bank, upgrade to a better current account or get cashback for switching to another bank.
MAKE A LIST
I’m a list maker by nature but when it comes to Christmas, it’s a necessity. All you need to do is write down everyone who you need to buy for, give them a maximum amount to spend next to their name and come up with some gift ideas. I’m lucky that I only have a few people to buy for nowadays. If you feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of presents you need to get, double check if you really need to get a gift for everyone.
Work colleagues? Try doing a Secret Santa. Neighbours? A card is usually sufficient. If you’re really close with them, buy them an inexpensive box of chocolates. Your best mate’s aunt’s cat? Delete off that list. Buy for your nearest and dearest only.
Usually, I don’t do presents with friends; we go out for a posh-ish meal instead. Obviously that won’t be happening in 2020 so we might just hold off on the gifts and meet up in the New Year (or 2022 at this rate).
SHOP EARLY AND BUY ITEMS REGULARLY
With the way of the country right now, Christmas shopping in November doesn’t seem as mad as it has done in previous years. This rule can apply to every category too.
Presents: Keep looking out for deals at the supermarket, local shops and online. With Black Friday at the end of the month, you can get some bargains. Many retail outlets are reducing prices already because of the impending lockdown so help them out.
Food: Now I’m not saying stockpile but prepare early. Freeze as much of your Christmas dinner and buffet as you can. Party food and everything on your Christmas dinner can pretty much be frozen. Make as much as you can from scratch (homemade Yorkshires are 10000% better than frozen ones) and freeze those too!
Decorations + wrapping: Pick these up during your food shops or visit your local card shops during a lunch break. Every supermarket sells them nowadays so avoid extra trips out and get them altogether!
DO ONE BIG CHRISTMAS SHOP
If you don’t have the funds to do Christmas shopping right now, save up as much as you can and do all of your shopping in one day. Create a seperate savings account for your Christmas fund and drip feed money into it daily or weekly. I find it quite fun to see the pot increasing and often don’t miss the extra few pounds a week!
This year will probably be different to most. There’s a strong likelihood that we won’t be able to gather with family and friends this Christmas. We’ll be feeding a small household rather than inviting people over. Christmas meals and nights out will be a thing of the past. Presents may be bargains rather than big buys! However, Christmas on a budget can still be a delightful time if you know how to do it.
TRY A NO-SPEND MONTH
Obviously it’s impossible to not spend a single penny in an entire month. Once your bills and fixed expenses are sorted, challenge yourself and your family to not do any frivolous spending. You could even make it into a competition. The first person to get a parcel delivered has to do all the chores for the week!
This might be easier in a lockdown situation but so many of us, myself included, love the instant pick-me-up when purchasing online. How often do we actually buy something we need during these impulse sprees? For me, it’s always clothes, stationery or beauty buys. I don’t need them, so why bother?
INCREASE YOUR INCOME
A second lockdown is the perfect time to declutter your entire house. Spending a few days sorting out the loft or spare bedroom can do amazing things for your bank balance. Minimalism is no longer a trend and more of a lifestyle change. With post offices still open, you can get all that old junk on eBay or another selling site and get it out of the house!
Now could also be the perfect time to start up that side hustle. I’m all about balance so don’t let it overwhelm you. Try just dabbling in your new venture for a couple of hours a day if you can. Is there a passion project that you’re desperate to make into a business? Why not give it a go now if you can?
Any money made can either go into your Christmas fund or if you can have already got the knowledge for how to budget for Christmas 2020, stick it straight into a savings account for 2021!
MAXIMISE YOUR SPENDING
This basically means spending a little extra time sniffing out a bargain by doing some research. I like to see what offers are online, then go in the physical store to see if I can get it a bit cheaper. Obviously, this won’t apply to some types of retail this year but for entertainment (games, box sets, electronics) and toiletries/healthcare, it is doable. However, shopping around online is ten times easier!
I rarely buy an item if it’s not on some kind of offer or if I don’t have a voucher for it. I get cashback from most of my online shopping on Top Cashback (aff) and still have my student discount card for in-store purcahses. This is the time to sign up to emails to get a discount code and to use up any points you have on loyalty cards. For example, I save up my Boots points every year and use them to buy my parents’ presents!
SHOP SMALL AND LOCAL
2020 has been such a hard time for local businesses. Whilst you might not be able to get items as cheap as national companies, every time you buy from a small business, the owners do a happy dance! You can get some unique and quirky gifts from local stores, which will mean a lot more to someone than a generic present.
Christmas in 2020 is going to be an odd one, even if lockdown is lifted for us in England. However, the most important thing to remember is there is no point in getting into debt over one celebration and carrying it into a new year. Learning how to budget for Christmas 2020 is going to serve you well and hopefully, it will be something you’ll carry with you for years to come!
I’ll be sharing my own journey of how to budget for Christmas 2020 on Instagram so why not give me a follow?