This episode of the Your Recipe for Financial Success podcast was published on 17th December 2020. You can listen again by heading to our Episodes page, or on your favourite podcast player.

In this episode, Becky, Julie and Emma discuss their favourite Christmas budgeting tips. So, get your Christmas jumpers on, warm up that mulled wine and get yourself comfortable.

Episode Highlights

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The season for gifting and celebrating. It’s also a time that can lead most of us to over-indulging slightly and loosing track of our purse strings.

So, here are our top tips for keeping your money under control over the festive season.

Planning is key

Budget

The first thing you should do is set yourself a budget. Working out how much money you can comfortably spend without getting yourself in debt is the most important step.

If your budget doesn’t quite stretch far enough, have a look to see if there is anything you can sell on eBay or Facebook to make a little extra cash.

Who are you buying for? What are you buying?

The best next step would be writing a list of everyone you would like to buy for, their individual budget and an idea of what you want to get them. Do this before you start shopping!

The costs could easily spiral out of control if you find yourself winging it in the shops or online.

How often have you found yourself getting a little something extra for one of your children because you happen to see it in a shop and then have to get a little something extra for the others? It soon adds up.

Do you have to buy for everyone?

It can be difficult to buy for adults – we all tend to buy the things we want or need throughout the year. One great way to save you buying lots of unnecessary presents is to do a family Secret Santa for the adults in the family.

Set a budget then pick a name out of a hat and buy for that person only. Or skip the name in a hat thing and just buy a generic present which anyone in the game would enjoy such as a board game or some local food. On Christmas day you would just pick one from under the tree.

Save money and spread the cost

Saving on Christmas Gifts

Buying presents doesn’t have to get you in a sticky situation with your finances.

Make some gifts
Homemade gifts are really thoughtful and don’t have to cost the earth. How about baking some treats or going out and picking fruit to turn into flavoured vodka or gin?

Buy in the sales
Save yourself some money by buying gifts in the January sales. There are some gifts, such as perfumes or gift sets which can keep all year and will always cone in handy for someone on your list.

This doesn’t just work for gifts though, stock up on wrapping paper or cards to save yourself from having to buy them at full price closer to Christmas next year. You’re always going to need some!

Reuse and recycle
You can even get a little thrifty about saving some cash next year. Rather than buying a stack of gift tags, why not use the Christmas cards you receive to make gift tags for the following year?

Spreading the Cost

There are a number of ways that you can spread the cost of Christmas, if you plan ahead.

Buy throughout the year
Spread the cost by buying one or two presents every month. If you don’t have the space to store them, or don’t trust the recipient won’t buy it themselves before Christmas, why not just put away some money each month instead?

This still works as spreading the cost as you’ll have a pot of cash to use up when it is time to buy the presents. There are some bank accounts which allow you to set aside your money into a pot which could be very useful.

Delay the cost of a gift
Giving homemade gift vouchers could promise the recipient a trip to the cinema to see the next blockbuster or a massage one day. You are still promising a present but don’t have to pay for it right away, if you haven’t got the budget at the time.

They don’t have to cost you anything though, you could offer to wash someone’s car or cook them a lovely dinner. These can be cashed in throughout the year. A great idea for presents that children can give to their families.

Get cashback
Use cashback sites like TopCashback or Quidco when shopping online. You can save up your earnings throughout the wear and cash them out to spend on gifts or vouchers.

Don’t overspend at the supermarket

We have been guilty in the past of chucking a load of extra treats in the trolley when doing the big Christmas shop. There is just so much delicious food to tempt us!

Plan your supermarket shop to avoid overspending and over-indulging. Write a list of what you actually need and stick to it! Buy the right amount of food for those you are entertaining.

Don’t buy too much in advance if you can’t resist eating it! You may end up having to go back and buy more because you’ve eaten the first lot! Or, you could get chocolates and biscuits as gifts so you’ll then have double.

If you regularly shop at a certain shop, you are likely to get vouchers throughout the year. Save up those vouchers and use them for your big Christmas shop, maybe you can afford a couple of treats, after all!

If our podcast has left you hungry for more Christmas budgeting tips, download 100 Christmas Budget Beaters E-Book for free!

Get your teeth into more of our financial recipes! Check out our other podcasts on our episodes page. Don’t forget to also join in the conversation on our Facebook page too.

 

Rediscover the conversation

Becky Campion 
In this week’s episode, we are dusting off our Christmas budgeting tips. So Julie, do you want to start off by telling us your number one top tip?

 

Julie Hunt 
Thank you, Becky, I think the best tip that I can give for anybody this Christmas is to make sure that you plan.

It is so important to make sure you know what you’re going to be doing, what your budget is, and what you’re going to be spending it on. I think if you can do that, then you will have an amazing Christmas without the worry of having debt at the end of it.

 

Emma Knights 
If that is your first top tip for budgeting at Christmas, you must have some more, come on Julie, what’s the next tip?

 

Julie Hunt 
Ok I’ve covered this in a few areas. I think that I’m going to look at presents as my first area.

I think that, when buying presents, you really need to think about your budgeting, making sure that you have enough money. Work out what your budget is and think about how many people you have got to buy for.

It is also important to come up with a budget per person. I think getting that planned out is really, really important. If you find that you haven’t got enough money, look for ways to make a little extra cash. I don’t know about any of you, but in lockdown I went through my wardrobes and sorted through my clothes. I found lots of items, certainly dresses that I haven’t worn for years and unfortunately due to that gold corona-stone, don’t fit me anymore. What a great opportunity this is to sell those off on eBay or on Facebook to help to get some extra funds together to pay for your Christmas presents this year.

 

Becky Campion 
That sounds like a really good idea. I know I think I have joined you with the corona-stone. I expect if I have a rummage through my wardrobe, I will probably find some dresses that I could probably sell on to a new home too! What about you Emma?

 

Emma Knights 
I must admit, I sorted out my wardrobe and I think three quarters of my dresses are for going out. Unfortunately, I’m not sure when I’m next going to be able to go out so maybe it’s a good idea to get rid of some of them.

I agree as well with the planning. I know when I’ve done a little bit Christmas shopping and I see something, and I think “that’s nice. I’ll just get that, oh, I’ll just get that too”. It can so easily spiral out of control. Planning is definitely a good tip.

 

Julie Hunt 
I think it’s especially hard when you’ve got children as well, because you go out and you think “oh that’s just a little something extra”. Then if you’ve got more than one child it’s even worse, because if you buy one thing for one child, then you feel the need to buy an equivalent present for the others as well. It soon starts to build up.

 

Emma Knights 
I always remember my mum saying that she not only had to spend the same amount on each of us but we also have to have the same amount of presents as well because it wouldn’t be fair if one had more than the other. I guess that’s where it can get out of control quite easily.

 

Julie Hunt 
That sounds a lot like my mother as well. And to be fair, when we were little, we used to take it in turns to open our presents so I can imagine I wouldn’t have been the happiest child in the world if I’d have been sitting there at the end and my brother still had six pressies to open. But I do think that it is magical with children on Christmas morning.

But what about but what about the adults? I think one idea that’s been coming about in the last few years, which I think actually started in offices, is Secret Santa.

It used to be in the office when you’ve got a load of people and what would happen is you put all the names in a hat, and everyone pulls out a name and you’re given a budget to buy a present for that person. I remember the days when £5 was a budget, but this year in our office we are £10.

I am finding more and more people nowadays are doing it at home too. Rather than buying a pair of socks for Uncle Eric and an Uncle Eric buying you a pair of socks back, or you exchange the same £10 voucher, and you then pass it back and forth to each other. It’s a bit of a different way of doing it. And it certainly is cheaper too.

 

Emma Knights 
There is always that dread of pulling the one person out of the hat that you’d have no idea what to buy for them!!

 

Julie Hunt
Another thing that I have seen recently, is people are actually doing Secret Santa’s at home but rather than getting a name, they have to buy a generic gift, which could be appropriate for anybody in the room. Then they make it into a game on Christmas Day. I’m not sure if either of you have done that before?

 

Becky Campion 
I haven’t heard of that one before, but it sounds quite interesting. I imagine it would be hard to buy a gift that’s generic for everybody. It would have to be food or drink?

 

Julie Hunt 
Unless of course you’ve got the Aunt who doesn’t drink, then that’s going be a real problem. Or has got a Chocolate allergy. I mean, I once knew somebody with chocolate allergy.

Oh my god. I don’t think I’d survive.

 

Becky Campion 
No. I didn’t know it was a thing! I guess you could get board games. Maybe?

 

Julie Hunt 
Yeah, that’s a good idea.

 

Emma Knights
There’s a risk though if you’ve got, say, seven or eight of you to buy a board game that no one has, you’re going to be stretched a little bit possibly. Or maybe you could make something everybody loves a homemade gift!

 

Julie Hunt 
Well, Emma, this is very, very true. And, that’s one of the items on my list.

 

Emma Knights 
I haven’t been reading your list promise!

 

Julie Hunt 
So making homemade gifts is also on my list. Things like cakes and cookies are good if you’re going to be seeing the person quite close to Christmas. Having said that I’m pretty sure that she nobody would want anything that I cooked to be honest, but one of Emma’s lovely cupcakes I’m sure wouldn’t last if she gave them out a week before Christmas.

One of the things that I did this year in lockdown was going out and about collecting fruit from the bushes and trees. I was picking blackberries, elderberries and Victoria plums. I think it was a good year for the plums! With all the fruit I had collected I have been making blackberry Vodka and elderberry Gin and all sorts of other delights which I am planning on bottling up as presents. So guys, if you get them look surprised.

 

Becky Campion 
Yeah. We’ll forget that we had this conversation.

 

Emma Knights 
Sounds like the party is going to be at your house!

 

Julie Hunt 
Yes. I’ve got so much but it’s hopefully going to last for another couple of years. I don’t think I know enough people to actually give it all out to. I think I’ve got about 16 litres of the stuff.

 

Emma Knights 
Oh, wow. Christmas presents for the next 10 years, Becky?

 

Julie Hunt 
Another tip, going back to what you spend, is buying – obviously not for this year because it’s too close – but for next year, buy presents in January sales, or buy one gift a month for the entire year.

So split out the presents per month depending on how many people you have to buy for. Buy one or two gifts a month, depending on how many you have to buy.

 

Becky Campion 
That sounds like a really good idea. And with the January sales as well, you can normally pick up some good gift sets that as a rule don’t change from one year to the next so you might as well get them at sale price.

 

Emma Knights 
Another thing I always buy in January is wrapping paper because I always think it’s so expensive. It’s nice to be able to have the pretty paper but they cost a fortune. If you wait until January, you can buy up all the really pretty ones and save them for the next year.

 

Julie Hunt
That’s a really good plan. Last year, we actually use magazines as the wrapping paper for our secret Santa.

 

Becky Campion 
We didn’t know the Financial Adviser magazine could be so interesting!

 

Emma Knights 
That way nobody knows whose paper is whose, or can think that’s a pretty bow who did that one?

 

Becky Campion 
Yeah. Definitely not me if there’s a bow.

 

Julie Hunt 
No that’ll be you Emma, you’re the bow girl!

If you don’t want to buy all your gifts throughout the year as you’ve got nowhere to store them you could put money away each month for Christmas gifts when the time comes. I mean certain bank accounts nowadays have pots in them, where you can actually put money each month into a pot.

If anyone read Eddie’s blog recently, you’ll see that Eddie collects his money in jam jars. He has a jam jar for his Christmas money to buy presents with.

 

Emma Knights 
I hope you’re not going to be taking his jam jars to put your jam in!

 

Julie Hunt 
Another good idea is also a homemade gift voucher. That could be things like offering something like a carwash or maybe a back massage. Normally this type of thing is better for your close family rather than uncle Eric. Though Uncle Eric might like a back massage! Or maybe like something like a trip out where you pay in advance. So, for example, it could be that I could say I will take you to the cinema next year. “I’ll take you to see the James Bond film for your Christmas present.”

 

Becky Campion 
That would be lovely if I liked James Bond!

 

Julie Hunt 
Don’t be so ungrateful!

 

Becky Campion 
No that would be a very nice present, thank you.

 

Julie Hunt 
But, as an example, it could be something so rather than paying for it now you could do a homemade gift card saying that something will be happening next year to help spread the cost. There’s also things like cashback systems, things like TopCashback or Quidco. We’ll make sure we share the links to both of those sites in our podcast write up.

 

Becky Campion 
Yeah, the TopCashback one is really good. I know my husband uses it all the time. I think he gets quite a lot of good savings from it so I can vouch for that one!

 

Julie Hunt 
Someone told me earlier today that they use Quidco and they’ve saved over £2000 in the last 12 months!

 

Becky Campion 
Ok, I don’t think he’s got that much back and if he has he certainly hasn’t told me about it!

 

Julie Hunt 
Maybe he’s saving it all for your Christmas present, Becky.

 

Becky Campion 
Yes, maybe! I will let you know in January.

 

Julie Hunt
Moving on from presents, let’s talk about the food! I think this is one of those things where we all overspend. And again, over indulge!

 

Emma Knights 
Not just on spending, but eating too!

 

Julie Hunt 
I think it’s again where planning comes in and is really important. When you do that supermarket shop, plan and make a list of the things you actually need. Then think do you really need them? Do you really want all that chocolate sitting around, especially if you are buying it weeks in advance – will it be there when it comes to Christmas or will you have eaten it?!

 

Becky Campion 
I can already answer that! We bought a tin of Heroes a couple of weeks ago and they are already gone! None left!

 

Julie Hunt 
Where they for Christmas Becky?

 

Becky Campion 
Yeah and they are already gone. I don’t think they made it through the first night in our house!

 

Julie Hunt 
I think if you’ve got willpower, it’s not too bad, you can buy in advance, but if you haven’t….

 

Emma Knights
I was going to say we’ve got a secret stash, don’t tell my Dad, but we’ve got a secret stash that have survived the last few weeks so we’re doing okay so far.

 

Becky Campion 
You’re doing better than me.

 

Julie Hunt 
To be fair I hide it from Ralph as well because he’s a complete chocolate monster. He actually searches the house for things.

 

Becky Campion 
Wherever do you hide it? Oh I guess you can’t say actually!

 

Julie Hunt 
I can, it’s in the utility room, but I hide it near the washing machine because he wouldn’t know what the washing machine is!

Think about, whether you need all those treats, and also what is the likelihood of you actually getting some of those chocolates as presents as well. What’s the point in buying it all and then then you get it gifted to you as well? Then you’ve got double the amount.

Then everyone has that New Year’s resolution that you’re going to lose weight so then your trying to eat it all, or it goes into a cupboard and nine months later you find it all there out of date!

 

Emma Knights 
Very true. I normally go with “we’ve got to get through all this by New Year’s Day. Hurry up”.

 

Becky Campion 
Eat it fast.

 

Julie Hunt 
And another thing as well is with your turkey, do you really need a turkey that will feed the 5000?

 

Becky Campion 
Probably not.

 

Julie Hunt 
No, I mean this year, unfortunately is looking very likely it’s going to be groups of six. So, unless you’re really into your turkey leftovers, and are going to be having turkey sandwiches and turkey everything you will probably end up wasting some of it!

 

Emma Knights 
Maybe I’ll have to find a recipe for something with turkey to go with this podcast.

 

Julie Hunt 
Actually I think if you could write if you could write a whole book for Christmas turkey leftover recipes you’ll be a best seller.

Going back to the supermarkets. Another way of saving is by using the stamp system which some of the supermarkets have, where you can collect stamps throughout the year, which can then help towards the cost of your of your Christmas meal or the New Year meal whichever one works out.

Also your supermarket vouchers certainly for example, Tescos is my is my supermarket on my way home from work so it’s where I normally go, and I get vouchers throughout the year in the post and they’ve always got really long date so I save those up and spend them at Christmas. It’s a really good way of helping with the Christmas spend in the supermarket.

 

Becky Campion
I do the same, but with the Sainsbury’s Nectar points. I save them up throughout the year and then when I do my final shop before Christmas. I normally buy myself a sneaky bottle of something to see me over the Christmas period.

 

Julie Hunt
I think really that covers food. Make sure you plan for it. Make sure you budget for what you’re going to do, try not to overspend on things that you don’t think you’re going to eat.

At the end of the day, it’s Christmas and it’s about enjoying yourself as well, but try and do it without getting yourself into debt. There’s no reason why Christmas can’t still be enjoyable but cost effective as well.

A couple of other Christmas tips here which you can think about. So, first, Christmas cards! Love them or hate them, they’ve been about for I don’t know how many years! I spent the other week signing 750 Christmas cards for work.

 

Emma Knights 
I still have the joy of that one I’ll get them done soon!

 

Julie Hunt 
Over the years I’ve had less and less cards and more friends deciding not to do cards but send a donation to charity instead which is a good way of doing it, but also very helpful tip if you are doing that would be to let people know early on that is your intention.

 

Becky Campion 
Yeah, so there’s not that awkward moment where you’re sending a card and not getting one back.

 

Emma Knights 
Then the next year you think I won’t bother sending one to them as I didn’t get one last year and then you get one. That is very awkward!

 

Julie Hunt 
So, back on Christmas cards, another idea is to cut up your Christmas cards so when I was little we used to have what my Mum called pinking shears. I used to get the Christmas cards down and we’d cut them out to make gift tags to use the following year.

 

Emma Knights 
I remember doing that as well and then be told well that what we had cut out was not big enough to write on the back of!

 

Becky Campion 
Definitely, I really like that tip!

 

Emma Knights 
And I’m guessing you can probably sit and do it in the time between Christmas and New Year when you sat there, and you don’t really know what to do. Then you’ve got the job done ready for the next year!

 

Julie Hunt 
You mean you take your Christmas cards down between Christmas and New Year?

 

Emma Knights 
Well yes!

 

Julie Hunt
I thought the sixth of January was the date to do it!

 

Emma Knights 
Not everybody does that anymore!

 

Becky Campion 
I must have admit, my tree is normally down on New Year’s Eve.

 

Julie Hunt 
Oh, you humbug.

 

Becky Campion
Sorry!

 

Emma Knights 
New year, new start! Spring clean!

 

Becky Campion 
I think I think I just can’t face it on New Year’s Day to have to then take it all down. So, I do take mine down normally New Year’s Eve.

 

Emma Knights 
Well, thank you for being in the hot seat today today Julie with some really good Christmas tips for us, and not just to use this year but to for next year too.

 

Julie Hunt 
This is it. And there’ll be a link on our podcast for details of the Christmas hints and tips guide for you if you wish to download it. Thank you very much.

 

Becky Campion 
Have a Happy Christmas everybody!