Christmas shopping on a budget

Get ready to beat the December burn on your finances.

Written by Amy Hoedemakers


Be prepared

If you want to save money over Christmas it’s important to plan your budget for the month ahead. Write down a list of everyone you need to buy pressies for and every night out that you’re planning to go on. Then think of all the little extras – are you decorating your student flat? Having a Christmas dinner with your girlfriend or boyfriend? Planning to give money to charity? Will you be eating out or getting coffees whilst Christmas shopping? All these extras add up, so make sure you list them along with a realistic estimate of how much they’ll cost.

Face reality

If the estimate of how much you want to spend is more than the money you have, you’ll need to cut back. If you’re worried about your budget and the risk of debt, then talk to MABS.

Budget in December

Aim to live on the cheap for the month before Christmas: drink less or drink water when you are out, make lunch at home, or have friends around for coffee instead of going to a pricey cafe.

If you eat out a lot or buy a lot of takeaways, make the effort to cook meals (and not just stick something in the microwave!).

Shop on a budget. Decide how much you’re going to spend on presents and only bring that amount with you to the shops. Leave the credit card at home so as to prevent last minute temptation buys that you can’t afford.

Offer your services for jobs like babysitting, gardening, cleaning, etc. and save the money you earn.

Make your own Christmas presents

Make your own Christmas cards – get creative about it and try to personalise them for each person!

Your own artwork, poetry or photos can look amazing when framed. Or make a frame and put a photo of yourself in it – grandparents love this! If you're musical, make a CD of yourself performing.

Check out car boot sales and charity shops for bargains. Look out for a cheap basket that can be filled with bubblebath, soap, shampoo, etc (buy a range in your local pound shop). You can make it look pretty by attaching ribbons and flowers – great for mums, sisters and aunts.

Get busy in the kitchen. Homemade cakes, buns and sugary goodies are lovely presents for anyone with a sweet tooth.

If you have no money you can always make vouchers for your services – put what the voucher is intended for: babysitting, gardening, cleaning, cooking and that sort of thing. You will be surprised how many people appreciate this sort of gesture.

Pressies for children

You can make hand or finger puppets out of felt material and any old bits of cloth you have at home. Think up a handmade adventure book with the child as the main character. You could make a costume for the child like a fairy, Peter Pan, Spiderman, etc. Find a toy from a car boot sale and spruce it up a little. Fill a stocking with small silly things like joke books, yoyos, colouring books, hair ties, whoopee cushion, markers, crayons, etc. (kids love silly stuff!).

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