How are those strings on your purse holding up?
Christmas is a time of giving, receiving and constant financial awkwardness. From stressing about how much cash to put in a card, to settling up a bill when everyone wants to pay in different ways, it feels like there's always going to be a festive financial worry just around the corner.
Whether you're in between jobs or are already over-budget because of an expensive Christmas flight, sometimes one look at your bank account balance is all it takes to get sucked into a vortex of stress.
But Christmas doesn't have to mean going into debt: There are plenty of ways to navigate gift-giving on a budget, whether that's trying your hand at DIY, smart shopping, or redefining gifts altogether.
Below are 11 ways you can save on money this Christmas.
make a list
...and check it twice. It’s not only the little ones that should be writing lists this Christmas as prepping will take loads of pressure off and save you money as you won’t be buying in a last-minute panic. So make a list before you go shopping and stick to it - you've heard it a million times, but this really will help you to avoid the temptation of impulse buys.
We think we're pretty savvy when it comes to online shopping but we've learned a thing or two when it comes to saving money. First, online discounts. All those emails you get in your inbox that you immediately delete...they tend to have discount codes hidden in them. Second, if the website you're on has a live chat, it can sometimes work in your favour to get a little cheeky. Message the chat explaining your a little hesitant on your purchase and ask if there are any discount codes you can use. They tend to be more than happy to close that sale and hey, 10% off is 10% off.
Speaking of being smart online, exchange rates are ones to look out for. A lot of shops like Inglot and the Bodyshop are franchise stores meaning shopping from a .ie store will set you back a euro or ten compared to their .com store. It's all coming from the same warehouse so you needn't worry about longer delivery dates.
REMEMBER: YOU CAN'T DO EVERYTHING
With the invites coming in thick and fast, it's a rookie error to believe your stamina and bank balance are suddenly invincible during December. Overfill your calendar and you'll be exhausted by the Dec 15, skint and sick at the sight of another lukewarm mulled wine. Instead, suggest to friends that you swap pricey dinners and midweek drinks for free carol concerts and soaking up the atmosphere at a Christmas market. Even better, invite everyone round to welcome the holiday with a classic Christmas movie and supermarket vino. That way you're spending less without skimping on the festive spirit.
So, you have the job of hosting Christmas this year and while you're excited to have all your family over...it can cost a small fortune. Ask your guests to bring along a dish or a bottle. Not only will it cut down on expenses but it'll lighten your workload too.
Loyalty cards are a great way to save money. Remember all those times you scan your Boots card as you buy yet another tube of mascara? Well, it's about to pay off. You without a doubt have a tonne of money on your loyalty cards that you can redeem in-store or turn into vouchers. It's a win-win.
AVOID ROUNDS LIKE THE PLAGUE
Buy your own drinks, and if your rich friend buys everyone shots, that does not mean you have to do it too. If it makes you feel better, we find saying "Oh I’m not sure what I’m going to have so do the rounds without me" in a really cheery, casual way. Firstly, nobody knows what to order for you because you don't even know and secondly, you’re safe for the night. The moment you’re out of the round system, you never have to dive back in. That one excuse has earned you a night of cheap wine minus the worry.
Sometimes, the best gift you can give someone is something you created yourself (and I say this knowing full well that not everyone is a talented DIY-er). But, take a moment to consider what kinds of non-store-bought gifts you can give this holiday season that could have a greater impact than something you bought at the shop.
While Kris Kindle can be the ultimate Christmas pain when it takes place in your office, a secret Santa is a great way to save money if you are part of a big family or group of friends. Rather than having to come up with a personal gift for each one of your 6 mates, everyone just has one friend to buy for. It could become your very own Christmas tradition.
Sometimes, all it takes is a frank conversation. If you're feeling that holiday traditions have left you stretched too thin, consider letting your loved ones know. Talk to your family and friends about setting a budget on Christmas gifts this year. This way, you'll save on money and not have to worry that your gift isn't as good as theirs.
You usually pride yourself on your comparison to the queen as neither of you carry cash but that is where the comparison dies. The queen doesn't have to worry about saving money at Christmas, you do. Decide how much you want to spend, take that total amount out of your account and leave your card at home when you go out Christmas shopping. This way you are guaranteed to stick to your budget and can't possibly be swayed by any special offers designed to induce you into buying more.
Main image by @mvb