How to balance your household budget this Christmas

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There’s still time to save for Christmas this year and make sure that your bank balance doesn’t take too much of a hit.

When it comes to Christmas, or any big expense for that matter, it’s always best to plan in advance as much as you can, but it seems that not all of us manage to do this. The Money Advice Trust recently looked into how people prepare for Christmas, and found that less than a third of people had a budget for the Christmas period. They also found that a third of people would be borrowing to pay for Christmas this year.

Although we’re in December, you still have time to save some money and make Christmas a little easier to deal with financially.

One of the most important things you can do, if you’re worried about the cost of Christmas this year, is to set a budget and stick to it. If you’ve never put a budget together before, it’s just a case of working out how much you can afford to put towards something, based on your income and outgoings. Your budget will tell you how much money you can spend altogether and will help you prioritise what you really need to buy for Christmas and what you may need to leave on the supermarket shelf.

It’s also important to cut back on your spending, if possible. Have a look at what you regularly spend your money on and see whether there’s a cheaper alternative or whether you can cut the cost of something non-essential altogether.

Could you take your own lunch to work every day in the run up to the big day? Or could you save on petrol by walking or taking public transport a little more often than you normally do? These changes don’t have to be permanent – just long enough to make sure you have a bit more cash in your pockets while you’re out and about gift shopping.

You can also sell unwanted items to try and generate some cash. If there’s a piece of furniture or jewellery that you don’t want or use anymore, better to make some cash from it when you really need it, rather than leave it to gather dust.

If the reason you’re struggling to cope with the cost of Christmas is because you have unmanageable debts hanging over your head, there’s still time to sort this out before Christmas. If you’re already struggling with debts it’s not a good idea to take on more credit, as this will just put you in a worse position at the start of the New Year. The very best thing you can do is seek help as soon as possible by contacting a trained debt advisor – you don’t have to wait until after Christmas.

If you have a plan in place to deal with your debts, you should find the festive period a lot less stressful.

Debt Advisory Centre: 0161 871 4881