December is arguably the most expensive month of the year for a lot of people so making your pay stretch all the way to January and having fun can be tricky. It's made even trickier if you've been paid earlier than usual which can sometimes be the case with salaried roles around the festive period. Here are our top tips for ensuring that your pay packet lasts you and you still have a wonderful Christmas time.
1. Budget, budget, budget
Budgeting starts with knowing how much you have available to spend without using credit and heading into the red. It's as simple as that. Forward planning is one of the ways that you can reduce the festive financial load. Once you have your budget, stick to it and you shouldn't have any blues come January. Here's three steps
to creating your budget.
- Make a note of how much all 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
Getting into budgeting? Check out our useful downloadable budget planner
for even more help.
2. Keep essentials separate
After saving, transfer your disposable income and bills to different accounts so that both sections of your life are separate. This way, you know that all your bills are covered and that what you're spending is there to be spent!
3. Don't get carried away
It's easy to get carried away and lost in the sparkly 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 might 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. Here’s some tips for keeping an eye on your budget.
- 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.
- Write down what you spend – why not try our visual bullet journaling ideas?
- 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!
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 bank account gets topped up, you might have the most
fun within that time, but you'll certainly be spent up sooner. 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 do and we've all done it but, face up to the fact that you may have spent more than you planned to and reign in spending elsewhere. If you can't level out your spending again, put together 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.
- Last minute hair and beauty treatments can sometimes be cheaper as salons like to fill appointment slots. Keep an eye on your favourite salons' social media feeds or ask them to call you if a cancellation comes up.
- Having an at-home catch ups with your friends? Save food shopping 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!
9. Shop your wardrobe (or your mates')
There are ways to still look as festive as possible for less. Before heading out to spend, spend, spend on a new party look, try one of these ideas…
- See what you already have that could have hidden itself away at the back of the wardrobe
- Grab your favourite outfits and have a style swap party with your closest friends to see if you can borrow something for your big event (this doubles up as a social occasion too!)
- Rent something for a fraction of the price. There are loads of apps and website out there now where you can rent amazing outfits for a tiny percentage of what it would cost you to buy the pieces new. Plus, it’s better for the environment.
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. 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.