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Image / Editorial

Last minute shopper? Here’s how to do Christmas on a budget and save your money

by Colette Sexton
18th Dec 2019

It’s a week until Christmas, and while most of us are excited, it also stirs up worry for those trying to do Christmas on a budget

Christmas is nearly upon us, and while that usually means fun times with your favourite people, it can also be incredibly stressful for people on a budget. Here are some tips about how to keep your finances on track even during the festive frolics. 

Make a list

Most money advice gurus will tell you that you should never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. I would advise that you also never go Christmas shopping in a panic (i.e. Christmas Eve at 5 pm) or without a list. There is a reason Santa always makes a list people!

Your Christmas lists should include a list for food/entertainment, a list for presents and a cost estimate of travel to include taxis, trains, and so on. The lists will keep your present buying in check and ensure that you only buy what you really need.

Cheap and cheerful catch-ups

Christmas is a great time to catch up with friends and family that you haven’t seen in a long time but all of those reunions can add up to put a serious dent in your savings. You don’t need to sit inside all Christmas alone to save money, but instead, you can be clever in where you meet.

If your friends want to meet for dinner, suggest an early-bird or a restaurant that allows you to bring your own wine. Or suggest getting everyone around for a potluck or take away. When out in the pub meeting friends, you could always be the designated driver. You’ll save money on booze and you’ll wake up hangover free. 


Most of us have items around the house that we received as gifts but that we have no use for. That does not mean that the item is fit for the dump (which is very unsustainable). Instead, think of who in your life would like that item and re-gift it. Likewise, you might have a voucher that you have not used yet, and instead of buying something you don’t really want or need, use the voucher to buy a present for someone on your Christmas gift list. 

Secret Santa

Many of us are in large groups of present buying and a great way to keep Christmas cheer going while also not making your wallet weep is to introduce a Secret Santa within your family and/or friend group. Set a budget limit so you aren’t tempted to go crazy for fear of looking cheap. Plus it is a fun activity to guess who bought for whom. 

Think sustainably

We are all trying to do our bit for the environment and we shouldn’t throw our climate action out the window when it comes to Christmas. When shopping for Christmas presents, check out second-hand and vintage shops for fantastic presents at bargain prices. Re-use your old decorations or even make your own, and instead of buying wrapping paper, use old magazines and newspapers. There were many beautiful issues of IMAGE Magazine this year that would make fantastically glam and excellent quality Christmas wrapping paper. 

Move away from fast fashion

Instead of panic-buying whatever sequinned outfit you can find in the shops, arrange a clothes swap-shop with your friends ahead of festive nights out so you all get new Christmas outfits for free. Also consider bringing your old clothes to a dressmaker to give them a new lease of life for a fraction of the price of a new outfit. 

Read more: What I Spend on Christmas: The 26-year-old recruiter earning €42,000 who’s spending €1000 over the festive season

Read moreTo-do list stressing you out? Doing this simple task will improve your productivity at work

Read moreWhat I Spend on Christmas: The 22-year-old PR Executive earning €29k who’s spending €100 on her boyfriend

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