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Published on December 8th, 2012 | by Pete

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Tis the Season to be Frugal – 8 Top Tips on How to Survive the Festive Months

Christmas Cash

Its only the beginning of December but already people are starting to worry about the financial impact of the festive season. Hardly surprising when you consider that the average family spends between four and seven hundred pounds over the holidays – and that’s before you add in the cost of New Year’s Eve. With this kind of hit on the household budget, it’s no wonder that so many people struggle to survive to the end of January without resorting to credit. However, there are a number of measures you can take to help ensure you have a financially stress free holiday season.

Planning

One of the first steps towards sailing through the season of goodwill is taking time to plan. Even though we are already in December, it is not too late to use organisation to help you address your financial concerns. Firstly, you need to take the time to sit down and draw up a budget for Christmas and New Year. You need to be both sensible and realistic with your budget and make sure you include everything from parties to food and even taxis. Then share the budget with the other members of your family so everyone knows what can be spent and when. Remember it can seem like a long haul to the January payday.

Cutting the Costs of Gifts

Before you start buying gifts, you need to consider whether you really should be buying for everyone on your list. You won’t be alone in thinking this way. In fact, over 46% of people believe gift giving should be limited to the immediate family. Far from making you look like the Christmas Scrooge suggesting to people that you stop buying each other presents, it is far more likely to take the pressure off them too. However, if you do still want to give a gift why not set a realistic limit on the cost – up to £5 or £10 each. This sort of limit can often make people much more creative when it comes to choosing presents.

Economical Gifts

Cheap gifts can often be some of the most welcome. Think about creating Christmas gift cards of your own offering a night’s free babysitting for a couple with young children, or breakfast in bed once a month for your other half. The thought behind this can often be prove far more valuable than a traditional present. If you do decide you want to buy a gift, remember to use online comparison sites to find the cheapest supplier and, if possible, combine this with one of the cash back sites such as Quidco or TopCashBack which can help you earn a little bonus for later in the year. Always remember to keep a tally of what you are spending and compare this to your budget.

Frugal Food

Thinking about food early will help you keep to your budget. By making a Christmas pudding yourself you can cut the costs by 70%, and by preparing your Christmas day trimmings earlier and freezing them, you will be able to make the most of any relevant supermarket special offers. Another idea that is increasing in popularity is asking guests who are visiting to bring a side dish, drinks, or even a whole course. People often arrive bearing items such as mince pies, so why not tap into that festive spirit and direct them as to what you would like them to bring?

Cheap Cards

To help cut your card costs, remember that the 18th of December is the last posting date for using 2nd class stamps. Even better, you could send e-cards which can be sent for free through charities or specialist websites. This will also cut down on the amount of waste generated over the season.

New Year on a Budget

New Year’s Eve is often one of the most costly nights of the year and pubs, bars and restaurants are generally packed. To save money why not opt for a party at home, perhaps giving it a theme to make it feel more special. Alternatively, most cities in the UK offer free events on New Year’s Eve, such as the parade in Newcastle, fireworks in central Manchester and the world’s biggest fancy dress party in Weymouth.

Surviving January

If you have stuck to your budget, you should have the money set aside to see you through to January’s payday. A positive way to start the year can be organising an annual budget putting aside a little each month for Christmas 2013, and hopefully next year you will approach the festive season in much better financial shape.

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