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Countdown to Christmas starts now. Are you ready?

Christmas? Already? Yup. You might want to enjoy what's left of the summer, but with just over 100 days until Christmas Day it’s actually the perfect opportunity to make sure you’ll come out of the celebrations without a financial hangover.

Research for the Money Advice Service showed more than a quarter of UK adults start the new year struggling with money. A big part of that was the cost of Christmas.

On average households spent £429 on gifts, food, travel and socialising – and a third (30%) of people used some kind of borrowing to pay for it.

Part of the problem was pressure to spend more than they could afford, with one in three overspending as a result.

The danger of using credit cards, overdrafts and loans to pay for Christmas isn’t just the extra costs incurred through charges and interest, but the very real chance it could spiral into problem debts.

How to get yourself ready for Christmas now

Work out how much you have saved up

Take a look at your bank accounts to see how much you have already.

Don’t allocate all of that to Christmas. You don’t know what could happen between now and then that might force you to dip into that fund.

Work out how much more you can save

You’ve just over 100 days, or 14 weeks, until Christmas. If you can put £2 away each day (perhaps by ditching a posh coffee?), that’s £200 extra you’ll have.

We’ve built a special Christmas Money Planner tool to help you do the maths here.

Work out how much you are going to spend

You can use the tool for this next part too. It’s easy to underestimate just how much you’ll spend so think about each category to get the overall cost of Christmas.

You can enter values for:

  • Presents
  • Food and drink
  • Decorations
  • Travel
  • Going out
  • Outfits

There’s an option too for adding extra expenses.

Look again at what you want to spend

Once you’ve filled this all in, you’ll be presented with the total cost of your predicted Christmas, and whether you’ve enough money to afford it.

If you’re likely to spend more than you’ll have saved up, now’s the time to think again about your plans. Could you spend less on presents? How about buying less food? There’s always too much for everyone anyway.

Alternatively, could you save up more? There might be ways you can cut back over the next few months, and some big savings could be made if you cut out food waste or switch your energy supplier.

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