Debt - Budgeting - How to Budget for Christmas

Budget for Christmas – with Phil Cole

Little changes to the way we view money can make a big difference to how we spend. Phil Cole, CAP debt counsellor, shows us how to save £££ this Christmas.

Why is it there always seems to be so much month left at the end of the money? If this is an issue for us in an ordinary month it will be even more so in December as we face yet another Christmas frenzy. So are there ways in which we can enjoy the festive season without the background anxiety of knowing that the bill for all these goodies will drop through the letterbox in January? Thankfully there is, but it takes a bit of planning.

   We know Christmas is coming (it comes every year!) so we need to look ahead and make some decisions as early as possible. As it’s now October (This was published in issue 1 Uncovered magazine) and Christmas is just around the corner my advice may be a little late for this year but at least it will give you a trial run.

The four areas we have to give serious thought to are...

How much do I have to spend?

Who do I give presents to?

How much should I spend on each person?

How much do I spend on my own enjoyment, including food, drinks partying and any other expense that relates to Christmas?

How much do I have to spend?

Some of you may remember your parents or grandparents having some tins sitting somewhere safe in the house where the cash from the weekly pay envelope would go – some in the ‘food’ tin, some in the ‘electric meter’ tin, some in the ‘rent’ tin, and so on. At any point in time they knew exactly what money they had and how much they had to spend on each type of expense. This principle may be old but it’s simple and helps us keep track of our money.

   So work out how much you think you can afford each week and begin to keep it safe somewhere – whether it is in a cash tin or in a separate bank account. Then continue to do this every week. Next work out how many weeks to go before Christmas then multiply the number of weeks by the weekly amount you are able to set aside. This will then be your budget for Christmas.

Who do I give presents to?

Once you have your budget worked out think about who you would like to buy a present for– because we often get more pleasure out of giving than receiving. Then list these names.

How much should I spend on each person?

This will depend on how much they mean to you. So now work through your list of people adding amounts beside their names, but remember a thoughtful present is usually more valuable than an expensive one. When you have finished add up the amounts to arrive at your budgeted cost of gifts. Deduct this figure from your overall Christmas budget and you will be left with what you have to spend on yourself.

How much do I spend on my own enjoyment? This figure is the amount you have left after your presents are allowed for. It you don’t think it’s enough you have the choice of either adjusting how much you save and how much you give away. If you really can’t afford to save any more and you don’t want to cut down on your presents you will need to come up with inventive ways in which you can enjoy Christmas for less – which can be done.

   If you now stick to your saving and keep to your budget you can have a guilt free Christmas knowing that everything is already paid for. If you’ve saved up cash – pay for everything in cash. If you’ve opened a separate bank account draw cash from an ATM and spend that. When we use cash two things happen, 1) We begin to understand the value of money and 2) We can’t spend what we haven’t got!

   Saving for Christmas is really the tip of the iceberg. When we adopt this principle of budgeting, saving and using cash to all the other areas of our lives we get control of our finances and are able to sleep better at night.

   It you are interested in managing your money better or are badly in debt CAP (Christians Against Poverty) is there to help. They have centers around the country and have a growing number of CAP Money management courses in most areas. All courses, advice and help is free and open to everyone regardless of race or religion. and

Phil Cole

“Phil began his career as an auctioneer, then moved to accountancy where he was a Partner in a Mid Devon Practice for seven years. In 1999 he gained a degree in Applied Theology and is now a church leader in the new forest. He is also a CAP Money Coach helping people understand how to get their finances under control.”

Have a wonderful and debt free Christmas!

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