How to stick to a Christmas shopping budget and avoid a financial festive hangover

Piggy bank with a Christmas hat

When the Christmas shopping frenzy is in full swing, it’s all too easy to blow the budget.

People often feel under pressure to tick things off their ‘to do’ lists – and countdown clocks, discount codes and ‘limited time offers’ can make it very tempting to press the ‘buy’ button immediately and add up the costs later.

Adam Bullock, UK director at TopCashback, says that keeping a list of the items you actually need to buy can help you to stay focused.

Knowing what you require in advance can also help you to do a bit of online price research beforehand, so you can sort the true bargains from the duds.

Once you’re on a roll with your shopping, try not to be distracted by other ‘bargains’ being waved in front of you.

Avoid impulse buys

Christmas shopping in London
Sticking to a shopping list while you do your Christmas shopping could help you stay focused. (Alamy/PA)

Mr Bullock says: “Small impulse buys can quickly add up and result in unnecessary spending.”

To further reduce the risk of overspending, as well as having an overall budget for your Christmas shopping, you could break this down further into a budget for each person, Mr Bullock suggests.

It could also be worth having a couple of potential gift options on standby for each person, he adds, so you can consider cheaper alternatives if some options are too pricey.

Buy now, pay later (BNPL) options, can also be particularly tempting at this time of year, as households see their costs ramp up.

An array of BNPL choices frequently appear at online checkouts – and, under the right circumstances, they can be a way for people to spread their costs over a longer period, interest free.

But remember that even small purchases made this way can soon add up, leaving you with less wriggle room in your budget when the post-Christmas bills start landing.

Avoid buy now, pay later

A laptop user with a payment card
Remember that small buy now, pay later purchases can soon add up. (Tim Goode/PA)

Take a pause to consider how you’ll pay back any buy now, pay later spending and whether this could affect your ability to pay the bills in the new year.

Also bear in mind that if a payment is missed, the impact on your credit score could impact your ability to borrow money generally.

If you’ve put more than intended in your online shopping basket, taking time out for a cup of tea could help you reflect on whether you really need it all, before completing the purchase.

And while discount codes from your favourite retailers can be handy when trying to stick to a budget, they can sometimes make it more tempting to overspend.

Postage costs

It may be worth setting up a separate email account for these messages to go into, then, when you have time, you can dip into it and pick and choose the discounts you’re interested in, rather than feeling bombarded.

And don’t forget to factor in any postage charges, which can ramp up costs significantly.

Finally, remember that if you don’t really need a particular item, you’re not making a saving – however big the discount is that you’re being offered. You’re spending money that would have otherwise stayed in your pocket.

Do you stick to a Christmas budget? What are your tactics? Why not share them in the comments section below?

Also read: Gift cards and their pitfalls, a Christmas guide

Written by Vicky Shaw

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