With November upon us, anybody who wants to make sure they get the bargains in will need to make sure that they’re starting to think about Christmas shopping – the early bird catches the worm, after all.
But when money is tight, even thinking about Christmas can be frustrating as you end up wondering how you can avoid either compromising your bank balance or compromising on the day itself.
Arm yourself with some nifty budgeting tricks, though, and you should be able to find a balance.
Introducing the rolling budget
One of our favourite techniques is the ‘rolling budget’, which allows you to prioritise the most important parts of Christmas in a way that makes sense.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Write down a list of the absolute bare minimum that your family would need to celebrate Christmas happily. This will be different depending on who you’re celebrating with and your own traditions, but it might include things like one present for each of the kids, a small Christmas dinner and a DVD of your family’s favourite Christmas film. Next to each item, write down the absolute maximum you’d be willing or able to spend.
- Draw a line under what you’ve got down so far, and then start to list all the added extras that you’d also like to afford in priority order. Things like gifts for other relatives, extra decorations, more food… whatever else would help to make the day special. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with asking your friends or family to make a deal with you to not buy each other gifts this year. That way, you can strike them off the essentials list without feeling guilty.
- Now your challenge is to find all of the essentials for as little as possible. Trawl the sales, look in second hand shops or upcycle, and ask friends and family for their best savings tips. The idea is to buy every priority item whilst saving as much of the budgeted money as possible. Once you’ve got all your priority items, you should hopefully still have some budget leftover.
- Here’s where the technique gets its name: you start to roll the budget over as you move down your second list of added extras. So, say you’ve bought all of your essentials and still have £100 left over in your budget. If the top item on your secondary list is the Christmas Tree and you manage to find one you love for £15, you then have £85 left to move onto the next item, and so on, until you’re spent up.
This is a great technique because it means that you can strip back your spending as much as you need to without losing any of that Christmas spirit.
You’ll often find that there’s a snowball effect, as the savings that you make on each item allow you to move further down your list than you’d anticipated, meaning that you’re able to afford more than you had anticipated too.
However, if you don’t have any budget leftover after buying your essentials it doesn’t matter – you’ve got everything