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Christmas can be the most wonderful time of year, with visits from family and friends, delicious food and a big pile of presents under the tree. Sometimes, though, all it takes to turn you into a grinch is a stressful shopping trip in the rain or a missed bill caused by all the merry mayhem. Not to worry – by planning ahead, spending wisely and bagging a bargain wherever you can, you’ll sleigh every challenge that comes your way.
Shopping agendas and to-do lists can help lower Christmas stress. They could even save you money by making sure you’re getting the best deal on all your presents.
Here are some tips to help you plan ahead for the festive season:
It can be very tempting to spend, spend, spend at Christmas time. However, a little bit of planning could make the world of difference to your Christmas shopping experience.
A good way to prepare for the Christmas expense is to plan and stick to a budget. Add up all the predicted costs of food, decorations, presents and little extras like festive party outfits at the start of the year. You can then divide this total by 12 to see how much you need to set aside each month, so you’re not caught by surprise.
There are also plenty of small changes that’ll help make your Christmas more affordable. Here are just a few ideas to help you get started:
A credit card with a 0% interest period can help cover the costs of Christmas. Clear the full balance before the end of the 0% period to spread the festive finances without paying any interest.
Make homemade gifts such as gingerbread men, snowglobes, candles or painted personalised mugs. The personal touch makes your gift extra special and can let you save some money.
If you need some help managing your Christmas shopping budget, you can try using the Barclays budget planner. It helps you work out how your repayments fit with your other monthly commitments and what you can afford.
Shopping on the high street can have its advantages, including trying items before you buy them, and snapping up unexpected bargains. Sometimes, though, you can’t beat browsing your favourite stores in front of a roaring fire with a mince pie in your living room.
Save where you can by shopping around, comparing prices, and using coupon codes and cashback sites where possible. For bigger gifts, use your credit card to receive purchase protection on orders over £100.
Here are some online shopping tips that could help ease your Christmas stress, give you gift inspiration and protect those expensive purchases:
When you combine presents, decorations, food and nights out, even the largest Christmas budget can feel the strain. Sometimes you might be thinking about using your credit card to help out. Here are a few tips if you are:
You’re likely to make more purchases during December than at any other time of year. If you’re going to get out your credit card, you might want to think about a 0% purchase card. With a 0% purchase card, you only pay back what you’ve spent with no interest added on top. As long as you clear your balance in full and on time within the promotional period, you won’t have to pay any interest on your purchases (subject to application, financial circumstances and borrowing history).
Loyalty cards can be used at any time of year, but they can be used in the run-up to Christmas too. If you spend at certain supermarkets and high street shops, you could double or triple your points during the festive period. These points can then be redeemed at a range of shops or on days out with the family.
If you’ve built up debt on your credit card and carry a balance into the new year, you could consider moving it to a card with 0% interest for a set period. Barclaycard has a range of balance transfer credit cards with various 0% interest periods, so you can find the right one for you. While these cards sometimes have fees for moving your money, they can still save you a lot compared to paying the typical APR (annual percentage rate) on another card.
If you do carry a balance into the New Year, you can use our repayment calculator to work out how long it will take you to pay it all back and how much you’d pay in total.
Worrying too much about money at Christmas could make you feel like a Scrooge, but hopefully our tips make managing your budget a little easier and let you concentrate on what makes Christmas special – spending time with loved ones, indulging in festive feasts and, of course, bad jokes from Christmas crackers.