The “most wonderful time of the year” is fast approaching, and with it comes not only a sense of celebration, but an undercurrent of stress and hectic spending. Christmas can be a tricky time for everyone financially, especially if you own a business or run a company by yourself. It’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed at this time of year, especially if it’s quite new to you. Worrying isn’t necessary though, as sometimes all you need is a bit of advice to keep you in check. We’ve compiled a list of 7 tips below to help you manage your money during the holidays – and these don’t just work for business owners, but for everyone!
SET A BUDGET
It seems so simple, and yet, most people never even attempt. Setting a budget for yourself right when the Christmas ads take over your TV is the best way to organise your spending for the next month and not leave too big of a hole in your bank account. What you allocate your money to will vary from person to person, but usually at Christmas it involves accounting for umpteen presents that will be returned or hardly used, an insatiable amount of food and drink and quite a few “impromptu” visits down the pub. If you know what you get up to every year, don’t be shy about it – plan ahead for it in your budget!
ACCOUNT FOR CREDIT CARDS AND OVERDRAFTS
Banks have sneaky little ways of making you think that you have more income at your disposal than you really do, and it’s easy to forget that. If you use any credit cards over the Christmas period (which is inadvisable but sometimes not avoidable) then make sure you pay them off as soon as you can come January. Even store credit cards can rack up unfairly high interest rates, especially when the festive season is finished. You don’t want to forget about this and suddenly wake up to the realisation that you have even more money to pay back! The same principle applies to overdrafts; make sure you know they can have added interests rates and charges that will have to be repaid. They aren’t just wonderful magic free money (unfortunately)!
SPEND YOUR SAVINGS – BUT WISELY
This is usually the time of year where your hard earned savings are put to much needed use. Remember, though, to have a plan for where and how you spend them! It’s worth incorporating this into the balance of your overall budget instead of realising you’ve flung it all on chocolate coins and bottles of Shloer. Also worth noting is that if you take funds out of a savings account, you should withdraw the money from an account that pays the least amount of interest!
MAKE USE OF CHRISTMAS CLUB CARDS AND LOYALTY CARDS
If you’ve been savvy enough to make use of store loyalty cards and Christmas club cards, now’s the time to cash them in! If you did particularly big shops at certain stores throughout the year then this is where it will really come back to you. These cards often don’t have any interest so it’s better to just cash them all in and add a little extra spending to your budget.
VOUCHERS AS PRESENTS?
Yes, everyone likes something to open on Christmas day, something they can hold in their hands; but often times a simpler gift like a voucher can go the extra mile, particularly the day after Christmas! A friend or loved one using the voucher you gifted them in the Boxing Day or New Years Sales is a great way for them to buy what they really want for a cheaper price; the sales can be so extreme that your voucher could buy them way more after Christmas than it could have before, so it’s always a safe bet to gift this to someone who is a little tougher to buy for.
BE THRIFTY AND LOOKS FOR DEALS!
This is one that requires a little more work, but it’s worth it in the long run. Sometimes the best way to manage money is to make sure you’re not spending more than you need to in the first place. If the item you’re looking for exists in multiple shops, take the time to look around for the best deal, whether it’s in-person or online. You’d be amazed at the price difference between some stores, or how swapping from the big name brand to the slightly more generic off-brand can save you a huge chunk of money for essentially the same thing. While it’s true that Christmas is a time of excess, it’s also true that you shouldn’t have to exceed your budget for one day of the year doing some kids friendly activities! In particular, pay close attention to the trends of the previous few months – if it’s been an unseasonably warm Autumn, a lot of fashion retailers will probably be having a sale to get rid of the heavier Autumn/Winter range. Make sure to take advantage of any impromptu sales or bargains!
KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS SAFE!
Last but most certainly not least, make sure you hold on to your receipts until well after the festivities are over! If you have paper copies, lock them up somewhere safe. If you have digital copies, don’t delete the emails! You don’t want to spend the early weeks of January arguing with the poor teenager working behind the customer service desk because you can’t provide proof of your purchase (and you’d be amazed at how many adults still make that same mistake). Errors can be made and returns often need to happen, so don’t leave yourself in a position where you’re losing out on money – keep those receipts!
Remember that you mightn’t have to follow every tip on this list to have a financially successful or even an enjoyable Christmas, but it’s always best to be as organised as possible for the festive season – it doesn’t take too much to get carried away and overspend!