Be Loaded at Christmas: How to Make it Happen

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Today’s guest post comes to us from Alban. Alban is a personal finance writer at Home Loan Finder, where he helps people to compare home loans online.  Enjoy!

Be Loaded at Christmas: How to Make it Happen
There is no mystical secret on par with the magic of Santa Claus to guarantee a more affordable Christmas – you either need to save more or spend less, or both. ‘Save more and spend less’ seems like an easy enough motto to follow for the holiday season, but the mechanics of how to actually make it happen will need to be implemented in a number of areas of your life, as far out from December as possible.
Therefore, consider these six savings strategies to help ensure you have more than enough money for the Christmas of your dreams.
1 – Start saving early
Even small contributions can add up to a jolly Christmas fund, and the earlier you start, the smaller your contributions will need to be to reach you goal – you won’t even notice that you are saving. To make your savings work hard while you’re not watching, deposit your contributions to a high interest savings account. This means your savings will grow through your own contributions and through interest earnings, and the longer the account is open, the more compounding interest opportunities you have – where you earn interest on your interest.
Plus, even if you reach your goal early, or you have set a goal budget, save more than you think you’ll need to cover any unexpected expenses, and maybe even a special holiday treat for all of your hard work.
2 – Start budgeting early
A successful Christmas budget includes all of your expenses, not just the gifts. This means budgeting for parties and the new clothes you need to buy for the party, decorations, food if the family are coming to your place, and of course decorations.
You won’t be out of cash at Christmas time if you know exactly how much you need, and if you budget for more than you think you’ll need. Emergency expenses can be greater during the holiday season, and unexpected costs can have more of an impact than they normally would because you’re not working, and you have more outgoing money already. Therefore, make sure your bank account is loaded for all of your planned expenses, and those unexpected surprises.
3 – Start shopping early
When you shop for presents and Christmas supplies early you can avoid the crowds, and save yourself time and therefore money on parking, lunches and pick-me-ups to get you through the battle of the shoppers. Plus, hitting the stores early means that Christmas items are not yet marked up in price, food and snacks are cheaper, as are red and green napkins, star shaped cookie cutters, plastic plates and garden lights – things which are in the stores all year around but which are very popular, and therefore very expensive, in December.
Of course plenty of stores have Christmas sales, but you don’t need to wait for these to nab a bargain. There are also mid-year sales, end of season sales and stocktake sales which offer generous discounts on Christmas presents and supplies. And in stocking up on food, most of this can be frozen so it’s fresh, and doesn’t get eaten early.
A successful Christmas shopping trip also means making a list, taking the list with you and sticking to the list. Impulse buys for Christmas can drain your budget quickly, and you end up buying items you don’t need, things you had already bought but forgot about, and things which you will forget about because they’re not on your list, and will therefore go unused.
4 – Plan time at home
While there are 12 days of Christmas, you don’t have to go out to celebrate every single one. You can instead stay at home with your partner or your children and play games, watch movies, bake or go for walks and save on food and drinks, snacks to entertain guests and fuel to drive all over town. Instead, you get to spend some time this Christmas with your family and you are able to return to work rested and relaxed, which can in turn make you more productive, and lead to more money to save for next year.
5 – Talk about your Christmas goals
It is easy for everyone – not just the kids – to get caught up in making a Christmas wish list for Santa. However, if you’re looking for ways to have a more affordable and in turn more meaningful Christmas why not take a look at exactly how much you have come to spend. Take the time to talk to your children about what to expect this Christmas, explaining that they can’t – and don’t need – hundreds of new toys. Speak with your family and friends so you can all set spending budgets, as this stops the inclination to overspend because you think someone will have spent more on you, than you did on them. And speak with your guests if you’re hosting Christmas dinner and have everyone bring something, chances are your guests will be happy to contribute to the day.
Plus, it is very likely that your friends and family will all be looking to save on Christmas spending too, and will be happy to set a budget this year.
6 – Declutter your life
In addition to saving for your Christmas budget, you can also raise money by selling items which you no longer want or need. These could be anything from old books you’ve read or video games you don’t play; old clothes which don’t fit or are out of style; that table tennis table which no one uses anymore; your child’s backyard swing set or cubby house; and even an old TV or computer.
When you look around your home you will find countless items which you can get rid, and which you really don’t need in your life. As a result you are able to focus on what is really important, and what you want for Christmas – as well as raising funds from the sales. You will be able to see what you really want and need, and you can now fit new items into your life without all the clutter – what you may even realise is that there is nothing you really want or need for Christmas at all.

Thanks for reading!

Alban is a personal finance writer at Home Loan Finder, which offers information on reverse mortgages.

How about you all? What techniques do you all use to save money at X mas time? Share your experiences by commenting below!

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