The festive season is fast approaching and you're panicked; you haven't saved a penny.
Saving for Christmas is not just about getting enough cash together to make sure there are presents under the tree. The festive season is expensive for a whole host of reasons -parties, decorations, visiting relatives - and it's the one time of year you don't want to be scrimping.
Fear not, there's still time. But you need to start now. Here's how you can save money in time for this year's festivities…
Set Aside Part of Your Wage
Ok, it's an obvious first step. But it's so effective. When you get paid, make sure you save a considerable (but realistic!) chunk for your shopping. The trick is to set this aside as soon as you're paid and then avoid overspending by budgeting what's left for the rest of the month.
Fill the Weekends with Freelance
If you have the kind of job where you're able to freelance over the weekend, now is the time to do it. The run up to the festive season is traditionally full of wet weekends, so if you're a writer or designer and can pick up some freelance work, get yourself a brew and settle in for a Saturday of working. You'll be thankful of it when you draw up your Christmas shopping list.
Be a Savvy Shopper
Everybody likes a new winter wardrobe. Big heavy coats, shiny new boots, sheepskin hats, gloves and cashmere scarves… the list is quite endless. But remember, it's only 12 months since you splashed out last. Dig out all your winter clothes from last year and try to reintegrate as many as possible into this year's collection.
Yes it's nice to wear new things but if it means you get to go to one extra party or two, it's worth it to stick on last year's pullover for work.
…or Flog It
If you're insistent on a new winter wardrobe, don't just leave last year's clothes gathering dust in the back of your wardrobe. Stick your old clothes on eBay where there are literally millions of willing buyers all looking to put together winter garb of their own.
This is a particularly good tactic for last year's Christmas party dress. Yes, you loved it and it looked amazing. But realistically, are you going to wear it again? If not, put it online. Someone looking for a perfect party dress of their own this year will be only too happy to snap it up.
Double Up on Dishes
Winter is prime time for big wholesome dishes that you can easily and cheaply double up on and stick in the freezer. Keep an eye out for deals in the supermarket and whip up a couple of one-pot wonders that you can easily heat for dinner as soon as you walk through the door.
You'll be surprised how much you can save with just a little forward planning for dinner time.
Next Year, Get Prepared
It might be too late this year, but want to know how to avoid finding yourself in this position again? Two words: Christmas Club. Sometimes you can organise this through your workplace, where a percentage of your wage is set aside for you throughout the year and paid back in your November pay-packet, which makes for a nice windfall just when you need it.
However, if your work doesn't offer this sort of scheme, you'll need to sort it out yourself. Try setting up a savings account (preferably with a good rate of interest), and arrange a direct debit into it for just after you get paid.
Just £25 a month will leave you with £300 by the end of the year - and even better, if it's in an account that will accrue interest, you'll have a little extra in there too.
Every year the festive season manages to sneak up on us, resulting in a flurry of panic when it's all too late. Though the joyful season is already fast approaching, with a spot of savvy saving, you should be able to get ahead just in time for festivities to begin.
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