- September 16th marks 100 days to Christmas
- Plan ahead financially now to ensure a smoother run up to the big day
With just 100 days to go until the biggest, and often most expensive, holiday of the year, now is the time to start planning your finances so that you can begin 2016 free from Christmas related money worries.
Although it may seem early to begin thinking about Christmas, Standard Life's Consumer Finance Expert, Julie Hutchison, recommends planning ahead: "Even though some of us will shiver at the thought of tinsel, turkey and gift tags just yet, thinking about Christmas sooner rather than later could be the difference between a financially red or black January. Planning now will allow you to maximise your savings as Christmas creeps closer, whilst also reducing the stress and panic of paying for everything in one month".
Julie Hutchison's top 5 money tips to help you plan for Christmas:
Save £20 a week
Start putting money aside now, for example £20 a week, and you'll have much more available for Christmas shopping. Physically putting this money aside can really help, as some people find they spend more unknowingly when it is in their bank account. With the typical family Christmas costing £650, a little extra saved each week will help tremendously come December. Setting aside £20 a week between now and the end of November would give you an extra £300 towards this.
Book your travel now
If you're planning on going away or visiting friends or family over the Christmas period, start planning your travel now. Whether you're booking a hotel, train or plane, doing so in advance could really cut your costs. Make sure you shop around for different prices, there's lots of websites which can help you do this, some examples are TrainLine and CheapFlights.
Prepare your present list
Make sure you sit down with family and friends to discuss the subject of presents sooner rather than later. Why not agree to do a Secret Santa within your friendship group rather than buying individual gifts and set a price limit for family presents? Setting a maximum price is an effective way to help factor in present costs, making it easier to plan.
Don't be a retail snob
Keep affordability front of mind when shopping, especially when it comes to the big Christmas food shop. Can you bulk buy at a discount supermarket? Does your local butcher or food shop offer a savings scheme to help you spread the cost through the year? If you're buying for young children they won't know the price so there's little point going overboard with top of the range gifts. Similarly, if you know someone has simple tastes, there's no point going for designer gear if they'll be happy with a more basic version.
Use social to bag a bargain
Log onto Twitter and scan popular phrases and hashtags such as #deal or #offer - you will find many people sharing extra tips or links to discount vouchers and special offers. It's also worth following big brands and retailers as many regularly announce deals and offers available through their social channels. ASOS, M&S and Amazon1 are great examples of brands that reward loyal customers with discount codes and early entry to sales.
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