Christmas, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Unless you are a bank account… In which case it can be a very painful festive period. Money is on everyone’s mind and so buying Christmas presents can cause a lot of stress for some people who feel they have expectations to live up to. 1. Use your points
2. Set expectations
3. The early bird catches the worm
4. Christmas Lists
5. Re-gifting

This is why we’ve come up with five ways to help you spend less and spend creatively, to maximise your budget and cut down on your overall Christmas haul.

Use Your Points

If you have loyalty cards or points cards for certain shops, then throughout the year you will probably have acquired some points that you can use in store. You may surprise yourself with just how many points you’ve gained, and it can be a very rewarding moment when you can buy gifts without spending any actual money.

Some supermarkets, pharmacies and even clothing stores offer redeemable points throughout the year if you have a points card. While the number of points you earn can vary, if you use the cards on every shop then you should have saved a few quid by the end of the year. Using your supermarket cards for purchases like fuel is an easy way to gain points quickly (as long as the fuel is bought from the same chain as the supermarket itself), and it might just take the edge off your Christmas food shop bill. Some pharmacies do great gift sets to spend your points on, as well as perfume and aftershave, and even disposable cameras which could come in handy around Christmas time.

You can find out in store how many points you have and what those points equate to in terms of their monetary value. Even coffee shops issue loyalty cards and a free coffee might be just what you need after a long day of Christmas shopping.

Set Expectations

It can be very easy to get carried away with Christmas shopping and this can often mean you spend way more than you realise – or can afford. If you set an expectation between you and your friends and family, it might help curb your spending habits, and reduce the number of unused Christmas presents.

For example, if you have friends with kids over the age of 18, it might be worth negotiating the gift exchange to come up with a more suitable plan than buying what you think they will like. If you both agree to stop doing presents for children who are actually adults, it might save you a little time and energy, especially if you just transfer some money (as most young adults could probably use the cash these days). Alternatively, look at gift experiences that you could all do together.

Making your close family aware of your financial situation may also reduce the stress that is burdened upon you when the festivities roll around. This doesn’t mean you have to go into detail about your finances, but simply explaining that money is a little tight right now and Christmas presents might not be as extravagant as previous years might just be the heads up your family needs. They will probably understand and as it’s Christmas everyone should be in high spirits! You could maybe opt for an ‘I owe you’ or arrange to meet up in early January so you can get another payday in before buying their presents.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

Buying Christmas presents early always seems like a great idea but putting into practise is much harder. Obviously, if you spread your Christmas shopping over a couple of months, it’s going to ease the pressure on your bank account quite a bit. If you’re very organised, you could start the Christmas shopping in January – hit those January sales hard. However, make sure you make a mental (or literal) note to self that you have already bought some gifts and where you’ve stored them as there’s nothing worse than buying a bunch of presents only to realise you’ve already bought some.

If you have a loft, it might be a good time to have a sift through of all the things up there so that you can make room for early Christmas presents. If you haven’t got the space to buy gifts that far in advance, then maybe you could just put a little money away each month so that when Christmas does start rolling around, you’ve already got the expenses covered.

Christmas Lists

Who doesn’t love a list? Whether you are organised or not, making a Christmas list of everyone you need to buy for, and what you are thinking of buying them is a brilliant way to keep track of your expenditure.

Using an excel spreadsheet could save you loads of time (rather than writing everything on a piece of paper), and it’s easily accessible all year round. Create a column for who, what and how much; you could also add in columns for when the present has been bought and wrapped so you can keep a close eye on your money and who’s gifts you can check off and when.

Using a list like this will help you reduce the number of gifts you buy and will hopefully keep your shopping trips short and focussed. It may also help ease the pressure of Christmas shopping because you’ll be able to tick items off the list as you go.

Re-gifting

Re-gifting can be controversial (is it rude to give someone a present that you don’t want?) but it can also be a great way to re-home a gift you know you won’t use. Maybe you’ve just received one too many scarves this year, or you simply don’t need a bath bomb the size of your face: passing gifts on that will do little more than gather dust in your own home should be a shameless act.

We would suggest that you keep track of who bought you what though, because there’s nothing more embarrassing that giving someone a present that they first gave to you. Maybe add a removable label with the name of the person who gave you the gift or write the name of the person you intend to gift it to so that when the 25th December rolls around the next year, there’s no confusion when it comes to re-gifting. Plus, think of the money you could save!

Christmas is an exciting part of the year, but life doesn’t always celebrate with you. Sometimes cash flow can be short at the worst times and having something like your washing machine break after you’ve bought all your Christmas presents could cause a real problem (as much as we would love to spend the holidays in our pyjamas, you can’t really wear them to a friend’s dinner party), which is why cashasap.co.uk offers short term loans to make your life a little easier when little dramas happen. We offer Payday Loans and Multi Month Loans so that you can choose the best repayment option for you and we transfer the money on the same day! Please read through our website and feel free to drop us any questions on Twitter (@cashasapUK) or Facebook. Please act as a responsible borrower and only apply for what you need. Remember, late payments can cause you serious money problems.