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Christmas is coming! And fast! But there’s still time to get your savings in shape and avoid a financial hangover in the new year.

Getting your savings in shape for Christmas

Christmas is coming! And fast! But there’s still time to get your savings in shape and avoid a financial hangover in the new year.

Today we’re taking a closer look at four big ticket Christmas costs – presents, food, travel and of course getting into the spirit of the season.

Money Advice Service research revealed the average household spends £429 on these, with a third of people borrowing on credit cards and overdrafts to cover it. This can make for a stressful January as the bills start to drop through the letter box.

We’ll be sharing more tips to help you save on these and get you #XmasReady over the next few weeks, but first here are a few things to get you started. Don’t forget to use our Christmas money planner tool to work out the total cost.

Presents: Make a list (no need to find out who’s naughty or nice)

To avoid going over budget on presents, make a list now of everyone you need to buy for, and how much you can afford to spend on each of them. This’ll help you keep an eye out for the perfect gift in your price range.

Don’t leave it to the last minute though. By early December shops can be manic and stocks can be low, forcing you to just grab “something”, whatever the cost.

If you’re not sure what to buy, or struggling to find something, just ask them what they’d like. Even better, agree a budget between you so neither of you are forced to spend more than you can afford.

Food: Plan your feast

Every year I eat more than I should at Christmas, and I expect most of you do too. But even with all the excess there’s often more than we need, especially with Christmas dinner. Throw leftovers in the bin and you’re essentially chucking away money too.

To combat food waste, plan out how much you’ll really need, and factor in subsequent meals that can make the most of leftovers. If you can’t use them straight away, the freezer is your friend. Even unused gravy or wine can be put into ice cube trays for later use – just don’t get them confused…

Travel: Get your train tickets NOW

Advance rail fares are usually released 12 weeks in advance, which means you can buy your Christmas train tickets now. The longer you leave it, the more expensive they’ll become.

Even if you’re not going by train, it’s worth having a think about any other transport costs that might come with Christmas and budget for them. So if you’re going to need a taxi back after the work party, or expect to fill up with petrol a lot more as you travel between relatives, factor in the cost. 

Festive spirit: Don’t underestimate the costs of being merry

The parties and socialising won’t kick in for a few weeks yet, and you probably won’t put up your tree until December - but when it all gets going, these things can quickly put a hole in your pocket.

It’s not just the food and drink you have to factor in for nights out. You might want to get a new outfit or Christmas jumper. Though some parties will be free, others might require tickets, as will a panto, special Christmas show or carol service.

Then there’s the decorations. You’ll hopefully have a box stored away to reuse from previous years - but factor in a little extra in case the lights have broken. And don’t forget the budget for the tree!

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