Getting paid in December isn't a Christmas present, that's for sure. But, we're all expected to up our outgoings quite considerably throughout the festive period and this can lead to some budgeting roadblocks. As one of the most expensive months of the year making your pay packet stretch until January's pay day can be as tricky as resisting the mince pies at this time of year. Sometimes it's made even harder if you've been paid earlier than usual, too. Here are our top tips for ensuring that your cash lasts you as long as it needs to - and you still have the best Christmas you can.
1. Budget, budget, budget
Budgeting starts with knowing how much you have to spend over the month and not going beyond that. It's as simple as that. Forward planning is one of the ways that you can reduce the financial burden of Christmas. Once you have your budget, stick to it and you shouldn't have any January blues when it comes to cost. Here's three steps to creating your budget;
- Make a note of how much all of your outgoings total up to.
- Take away your usual outgoings from your incoming money and you've got your disposable Christmas cash.
- Set a budget for each of your festive outgoings such as presents, decorations, treats, meals out, drinks with pals and all the other fun stuff out of the money that's left.
If you need a little help creating your budget, why not check out our online budgeting tool? Or, if you prefer to write things down we also have a downloadable PDF budget planner ready to fill in. Or, why not try and create a bullet journal spending tracker with some of bullet journal influencer Abby's great ideas - you could even make it look festive if you're a creative type.
2. Keep essentials separate
Transfer your disposable income or bills to a different account so that both sections of your life are completely separate. This way, you know that all your bills are covered and that what you're spending is there to be spent! Working this out should be fairly straightforward and our budgeting tools above are there to help, too.
3. Don't get carried away
It's easy to get carried away and lost in the festive moment. But, as quick as you can say "Drinks are on me!" you could blow your budget you've just worked so hard to sort out. Having a budget helps you not overspend so stick to it and you'll thank yourself later.
4. Accept that you might save less
If you're an avid saver and always strive to pop something away each month you may need to cut yourself some slack over the festive period. Don't beat yourself up if your savings aren't growing as they would in a usual month. December isn't a usual month! But, saying this, if you've saved enough throughout the year for Christmas with our how to save for Christmas tips, you may not need to reduce your regular savings too much.
5. Keep an eye on your spending
It's all well and good to sort your budget at the beginning of December but if you don't keep it up to date it can be easy to go overboard without realising it. Make sure you have your online banking set up, you're checking your transactions and even sign up for text alerts for when your balance dips under a threshold.
Better yet, withdraw your budgeted cash for occasions and pop it into separate envelopes. Label them 'Christmas shopping' or 'Drinks with friends' and once the cash is gone from each envelope, that budget section is closed! Alternatively, lots of current account providers have smaller 'savings pots' functionalities on their apps where you can pop money away that's easy to get to when you need but means that it's away from your general day to day spends.
6. Stagger your spending
A great way to make your money last is to not spend it all at once. It sounds simple but if you're at every party, dinner and shop going within the first week that your salary drops - you might have the most fun within that time but you'll certainly be spent up sooner and the rest of the month might not be as fun!
7. Face up to it
Another no-no when it comes to budgeting is to bury your head in the sand if you do overspend. It's easy to and we've all done it but, face up to the fact that you may have spent more that you planned to and reign in spending elsewhere. If you can't level out your spending again, conduct a simple plan on how you're going to repay it when January's pay pops into your bank account. A simple spreadsheet or notebook showing everything you owe will help you visualise how much there is to pay back.
8. Stretch your cash
Be a Christmas bargain hunter.
- Happy hours, 2-4-1 meals and voucher codes are your friends. Don't plan a night out or a get together without checking if you can grab a freebie or money off beforehand. These can usually be mid-week so opt for a weeknight party and keep your weekends cosy at home for peak money-saving wins.
- Last minute hair and beauty treatments can sometimes be cheaper as salons like to fill appointment slots. Keep an eye on social media feeds or ask them to call you if a cancellation comes up.
- Save food shopping for at-home catch ups with your friends until just before the shops close and grab yellow-sticker snacks for a fraction of the price. This is especially great if you know you'll eat everything in one evening or you've got a good-sized freezer!
9. Shop your wardrobe (or your mates')
Before heading out to spend, spend, spend on a new party look - see what you already have that could have hidden itself away at the back of the wardrobe. Or, grab your best outfits and have a style swap party for the festive season with your closest friends to see if you can borrow something for your big event. Alternatively, head to auction sites or second-hand apps such as Depop or Vinted to hunt out a bargain.
10. Don't waste cash elsewhere
If you're a serial meal-deal buyer - kick this habit for the month of December and you could have up to an extra £60. This adds up if you're spending £3 a day in a full working week. Make your own lunches with what you're already having for dinner the night before or, stock up on soup and salad making supplies during your big shop. Check out our eight tips on saving money on your food spend here too.
There we have ten tips that could help December's pay last all the way until January payday. Five week months can be tough but put these tips into practice and you can breeze through the festive period. Check out our range of savings accounts and read up on how to save money fast if you're interested in kickstarting that January savings habit.