Friday, 2 November 2012

Christmas Crackers

Christmas Crackers......

The Budget!

That's a word that has the ability to have even the most organisationally obsessed amongst us running for cover. The thought that we may have to not only restrict our spending, but give account as to where the money has gone is enough to make us throw caution to the wind and do away with The Budget once and for all! 

My OH is the sort of person who thinks a day performing risk assessments and recording the results on a detailed spreadsheet counts as fun so you can predict what his attitude towards budgets will be. He would budget in the hamsters pocket money, if they had any. So, there is no budget avoiding in our house anymore and I am slightly sheepish in my admission that I think this is a good thing.

If there is no budgeting to your spending, things run away very quickly. I have learnt this the hard way . I don't spend a lot on myself, but with 3 children it is easy to overspend on clubs, clothing and days out. My children are expensive! Money can just trickle through your fingers without you realising it.

Beware of little expenses , a small leak will sink a great ship.

Christmas is no exception. If you, like us, have a big family, you can find yourself with a huge bill at the end of every year that is just difficult to swallow. We found ourselves a few years back, not only buying numerous presents for our own kids and each other, but for every member of our extended families. We were also the ones who entertained everyone at Christmas, and whilst I enjoyed this, doing it was expensive . In hindsight I should have requested  contributions from other members of the family in the form of a desert or drinks, but you live and learn!

So my first, very simple bit of Christmas advice ( and I will be taking my own advice this year) is to set yourself a spending budget. How you do this depends on where you are financially at the moment. You may have a  figure straight away that you know you have to spend so that is your starting point. You may wish to start with a list of people you have to buy presents for and the meals you have to cook , then allocate a reasonable amount to these areas. However you do it, make sure you are firm with yourself and  stick to it. I tend to have a food/drink and decoration budget and a present budget and I set the figures for these at the start. This means that the money I have available governs what I spend rather than how much things cost!

 We are not at that stage of our lives where we are living hand to mouth anymore, but I don't like to give our hard earned cash away without thought. So for starters, here are ten of my tips to reasonably cut back on that Christmas budget:

  •  Make a list of everyone you buy presents for. Re evaluate this list! Does Aunt Dolly's hairdresser really need a gift?
  • If you have a large family suggest putting all the adults names in a hat and doing a secret Santa. Everybody buys one present then instead of 20. 
  • If you have a large family suggest you all contribute to a charity of your choice this year instead of buying numerous unwanted and unused Christmas gifts for one another.
  • Buy your children one main present. Don't go overboard with the extras.
  • Wrap presents in value paper or brown paper that the children can decorate . It lasts 10 seconds at the most.
  • Do a car boot with toys your children have outgrown to fund this years purchases.
  • Keep food shopping to a minimum. The Supermarkets are only shut for a day. Don't panic buy your food. 
  • Shop around for the lowest priced goods and food. If you can't get it within your budget, don't buy yet!
  • Take the time to look for vouchers, codes and the cheapest deals on the items you are buying.
  • Change your focus from giving presents to spending time together. An activity that can cost next to nothing, but be worth everything.

It all sounds so terribly unfestive and scrooge like doesn't it. Sorry. I do love Christmas. What I don't love is how it can dominate months of my life and swallow hundreds of pounds of my money without a second glance. Christmas is in December. It is one day. I want to keep it in perspective and not have to spend the whole year paying for it!

In my next Christmas Cracker I will be focusing in more detail on Gifts and how to find low budget alternatives to popular gifts.

What tips do you have for keeping Christmas budgets under control? All suggestions gratefully received by a Mum of 3 trying to keep tabs on the spending!


  1. I've been to Tesco today and there are so many Christmas offers on I've really had to restrain myself! My main weaknesses are buying too many extra bits for the kids (after their main pressie) and also food shopping (my eyes are bigger than my stomache!)- I tend to go crazy and buy far too much which then sometimes has to be chucked after the big day! Am really going to try and reign it in this year xx

    1. I am steering clear of the 'offers' this year as it's so tempting to buy stuff you wouldn't usually buy! I'm the same with the kids. Last year I got great deals on their main presents with the double up on Tesco vouchers, but went a bit overboard on extras in hindsight - wonderful thing hindsight! Going to make this year a bargain year for sure!! X

  2. Great post! I'm going to make Christmas Crackers this year with some lovely beauty trial sizes and making some homemade jams/sweets etc. x

    1. What a great idea - using up the unwanted beauty box items for homemade Christmas Crackers! Adding that to my to do list now.....Xx

  3. Oh you are a girl after my own heart, sounds like my kinda Christmas! My tip with food is to buy early. I put a few bits in with the weekly shop so that I don't notice it and have loads of chocolate, pringles, nuts etc upstairs already.

  4. I just hate that post Christmas feeling of " why did we do it?" So I don't anymore! you are right....pace yourself then it doesn't all come at once. Although I can't store up chocolate ...I always end up eating it and having to buy more!! Xx

  5. great this tips honey, i think the same as you, christmas is so cute but it is only one day and we have to take care about how we do things!