Christmas is supposed to be a time for celebration and relaxation. However, the lead up to the festivities can cause severe stress and anxiety about finances, resulting in many of us dreading rather than treasuring the silly season.
Limerick Voice reporter Roisin Ni Shuilleabhain spoke to financial expert Leah McMahon, of MadeSimple Financial Advice, about getting through the Christmas period debt-free.
“Don’t leave it until the last couple of months. Start saving in January.”
Her best Christmas saving tip is to have a “little sinking fund at the start of the year and just tip away”. However, for most people starting so early may not be an option.
People begin to think about Christmas spending in November. But don’t worry just yet, there is still time to get through the longest week of the year financially unscathed.
Cut Back on Expenses
“If you are going out every Saturday night – you need to park that for the moment. Because it will be all the more enjoyable in December,” she said.
Obviously, you cannot cut down on any of your financial commitments but cutting back on small expenses such as takeaways or nights out can be a major short-term saving strategy over the next six weeks.
If you are lucky enough to receive a bonus this Christmas, Ms. McMahon says “a certain amount of that should be allocated towards your Christmas expenditure”.
Don’t reply fully on your bonus but use it as a nice top up for a last-minute Christmas present or to enjoy a drink with a loved one back from abroad.
Rein It In
“You don’t have to go over the top”
Christmas spending is frivolous in nature. We all want to gift our loved one’s expensive presents, enjoy 12 pubs and have a little left over to blow out on New Year’s Eve.
However, remember that it is only one week out of a whole year. Don’t bankrupt yourself buying the perfect wrapping and living way beyond your needs.
Don’t Take Out Any Loans
“Don’t be concerned about what other people buy. Someone who may be spending €3,000 on Christmas could be paying back a loan back then for the next year.”
Avoid taking out a last-minute loan. Loans are expensive and fees associated will cost you. You’ve heard it before, and we’ll say it again: It is not the price of the gifts that count.