Christmas is fast approaching and amidst all the twinkling lights, festive parties, mulled wine and mistletoe, there is one thing that's never too far away from our minds - how exactly to pay for it all.
In Ireland we're all guilty of overspending at this time of year with half of households admitting to going over budget last year by €200. The average each home spends €1,000 on food, drink, gifts and socialising over the festive period so without keeping a close eye on where our money is going we can quickly let it run out of control.
So before you reach for the credit card here's some useful tips to keep you from overspending this Christmas.
1. ?Make Lists.
One of the simplest things you can do to keep tabs on your spending and end that mad dash on Christmas Eve is making lists. Don't rely on your memory or you'll forget who to buy for and what they want. Keep several - gifts to buy (and already bought!), food to get, things you need to remember over the few weeks. Keep them in a memo or an App on your phone so you can update on the go. That way as something pops into your head - a perfect gift, or a special offer, you can jot it down straight away and you won't be grasping for ideas wandering around the shops.
2. ?Organise a Kris Kindle.
Between friends and family?the gift-buying can really add up. A Kris Kindle means everyone gets a 'decent? gift and also what they want; for children, agree to only buy for two each in extended family but agree a budget. Parents will be delighted as many kids get far too much and never remember what is from whom. Alternatively, buy only ?family gifts? - a big board game or voucher for a cinema trip and treats.
3. ?Do Your Internet Shopping.
Internet shopping removes the element of implusive buying which we're all guilty of, particularly when it comes to the food shop. Perfect your list and order early as leaving it too late runs the risk of items not arriving in time or worse, at all. You have very strong consumer rights buying from EU based websites - with the right to return goods if you don't like them. See www.eccireland.ie for info.
4. ?Don't Be Afraid To Bargain Buy
When shopping, look out for 3-for-2 or BOGOFs (buy one get one free) especially in fancy aisles in supermarkets or cosmetics in say, Boots. Keep the ?free? item as a stocking filler or that 'spare' gift for a surprise visitor.
5. ?Offer Your Time and Skills
If you're financially stuck, why not offer gifts of time or talent instead? Parents would be thrilled to get a ?voucher? for an evening's babysitting, or older people with an afternoon's gardening or an offer to drive them to appointments. Make up inexpensive gift boxes for ?Movie Night? (popcorn, DVD, chocolate treats), or ?Bath Night? (candle, bubble bath, mini champagne bottle) - wrapped in lots of cellophane and ribbons for friends.
6. ?Get Organised
It may be the dull, sound advice that you already know but definitely don't want to hear but Christmas is guaranteed to come every December 25th so you really should be able to prepare adequately! By the time January rolls around you probably won't be able or in the mood to begin saving for next Christmas so why not start now. Put aside a set amount of money each month and you will be even more determined come next December not to break into your current account balance and stick to a strict Christmas budget!
To find out more about setting up a RaboDirect Savings account visit RaboDirect.ie or call 1850 882 244