I’m sure if I’d asked you readers as little as three years ago how you felt about Christmas, you would have said that it was the most magical time of year: great food, presents, and best of all, you never had to spend a penny because you were young and still under your parents’ wings. Now, we’ve all been launched into the ‘adult’ world at Christmastime, and that includes the stress of spending a small fortune on gifts that all too often end up in a dark corner of a loved one’s closet. Is it possible to avoid the tempting calls of the overdraft extension this year, I hear you ask? Well yes, it is, if you follow these simple, shopping-savvy tips.
1. Set a budget
It may seem tedious, but writing a list of what to buy your relatives and friends will probably save you a lot of money, and a lot of time when you’re doing the Arndale spree during Christmas week. Write down a budget for each person, and make sure you stick to it; we often succumb to the impulse buys, and it is usually these that mount up the cost and tend to make meaningless gifts. Put in the time, and your bank balance will be sure to reap the rewards.
2. Do your research
It often seems easier to run down to the shops and get all your gifts in one day, but now we’re living in the Internet age- A.K.A, the era of dirt cheap online shopping. Be sure to browse on Amazon or Play before you head out to buy the latest video game for your brother, or check that eBay aren’t advertising that bracelet your mum really wanted. Also, check out price comparison sites such as moneysupermarket.com, as they do the hard work for you!
3. Ban gift-giving
It may seem like a very Scrooge-esque idea, but why not make a pact with friends and extended family members to not exchange presents this year? I’m sure they will probably breathe a sigh of relief at your suggestion, as it saves them just as much money as it does you! Alternatively, if you feel like too much of a tight-arse broaching the subject, you could place a cap on Secret Santa gifts, which prevents everyone from splashing out.
4. Get creative
Some of the best presents are those which have a personalised touch to them- and what could be more personal than a gift made by yours truly? Get your hands on some free photo prints online- sites such as Snapfish and My Photo Prints offer you as many as 50 free photos delivered straight to your door, just for signing up with them! Then, you could stick the photos into frames, or even make tree decorations with that extra special touch. Guaranteed to be a hit with the females in your life.
5. Save a little, give a lot
Be prepared to sacrifice a couple of your own indulgences for the next couple of weeks- Christmas does only come once a year, after all. You could save loads by not buying clothes or gadgets for yourself, and try to limit your food shopping or put a hold on eating out. Surely it’s worth having a couple of evening in front of the TV rather than pissing it up the wall on a night out, to be able to afford an extra-special Christmas this year? Remember: short term pain=long term pleasure.
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