We’re fast approaching the most expensive time of the year: Christmas. And it’s easy to feel the financial strain and fall into bad habits. Maybe you bury your head in the sand and ignore the reality of your bank statements. Or perhaps you’re an over-spender…
Whatever the case may be, there are plenty of small changes we can implement throughout October and November to save a bit of money before December 1st. Here are seven ideas to start with…
1. Create Weekly Meal Plans
Meal planning is such an effective way to cut back on your spending, for two reasons. One: if you’re able to prep and plan meals ahead of time you can take packed lunches to work, and save money that you’d otherwise spend in Pret. And, two: by planning in advance you’ll shop smart, waste less and save money in the process.
Anna Newton of The Anna Edit produced a helpful meal planning print-out, which you can download here.
2. Take Stock of Your Direct Debits
Do you read your monthly bank statements? It can be painful, but I always force myself to do it. And it’s the only way you’ll spot long-forgotten-about direct debits that need to be cancelled. Are you paying for services like Spotify or Audible each month that you rarely use? Take a close look and cancel any subscriptions you can happily live without.
3. Get Creative About Your Little Luxuries
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice on everyday luxuries in order to save money. You just need to get more creative about it.
Love having fresh flowers in your home? Try switching to bunches of eucalyptus for a while. It’s cheaper than buying a floral bouquet, lasts a lot longer and looks great.
Obsessive book worm? Use your local library and take a break from Amazon. Regularly meet your friends for dinners out? Create a supper club and take turns hosting simple dinner parties at home (I’m talking spaghetti bolognese with screening of Gossip Girl). Or give “wine walks” a try.
4. Cut Back on Takeout Coffees
Let’s say the average takeout coffee costs around £3, and you purchase one every morning on the way to work. It doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up to £15 a week, and £60 a month. So if you’re able to resist the allure of to-go coffee until December 1st you’ll save yourself a nice little chunk of cash.
FYI: If you’re weaning yourself off takeout coffee, I think Nescafé Azera is the best instant coffee. And Marks & Spencer’s Weekend Blend ground coffee is great if you have a cafetiere.
5. Pay With Cash
I rarely carry cash. But I’ve noticed that when I do I’m more careful about how I choose to spend my money. So if you really want to get serious about saving ahead of the festive season, set yourself a weekly budget, take that amount out in cash at the beginning of each week and leave your credit and debit cards at home.
6. Limit Your Uber Journeys
Yes, we all hate public transport. But like takeout coffees, all those little Uber journeys add up. (I had a nasty surprise last year when I totalled my annual Uber spend when doing my tax return, and since then have cut back dramatically). Download Citymapper and see if you’re able to break the habit too.
7. Pay in Advance
This final tip won’t be for everyone, as it’s about spending now to save later… But if you have the option to pay any of your recurring household bills in advance – like council tax, for example – you could make your December and January payments during November. That way you’ll have one less bill to worry about in the months when finances feel super-tight.
How do you plan to save money before Christmas and the New Year? Comment below to have your say…
Photo by Victoria Metaxas
P.S. The December survival guide: 3 organisation tricks to stop you from feeling frazzled.