Even a pandemic can’t stop the most wonderful time of the year!

Christmas 2020 will be like no other. While it may not be exactly the same as the Christmases we are used to, many of us are still looking forward to it and, even with restrictions, hope to celebrate with friends and family. It will be a new experience for all of us.

With Christmas fast approaching now is an ideal time to get your festive spending plan in place. As the pandemic’s impact is still being felt far and wide it’s not surprising that many of us may be planning on cutting back on festivities this year. Lucia McCauley, Financial Wellbeing Coach at Bank of Ireland, shares some tips on how can we still do Christmas on a budget and not feel like we are missing out!

1. Set the gift spend

Think about your total maximum spend and divide it by the number of people you have to buy gifts for. Write down each person’s name and assign a budget for them. It may be an even share of your total spend, or you may increase the budget for one person and decrease the budget for someone else based on your relationship with them or their expectations. If you go over budget on one or two gifts go under budget on someone else to balance out your list!!

2. Suggest a family spend limit

Lots of households do this each year by introducing secret Santa and having a spend limit on the gifts. Sit down with your family and agree a maximum spend per secret Santa. This should be kept fair and considerations made for everyone’s circumstances. Secret Santa helps with the element of surprise on Christmas morning. When you are all together put all names in a hat and buy a gift for that person only. In my household we do a secret Santa and set a spend limit, it’s surprising what you can factor in when on a budget and it can be more personable when deciding on that secret Santa gift.

3. The Big Shop!

Be smart with your food shop in the run up to Christmas. Instead of waiting until Christmas week to do the infamous Big Shop, buy one or two extra items each week. Spreading the cost means that your December pay cheque will take less of a hit.

In the run up to Christmas, give a good clearing out to store cupboards and freezers and make sure to use those items you have forgotten about before stocking up for the festive season.

TOP TIP – try and cut back on your weekly shop at the start of December, by only buying essentials, this may help to free up some cash for the big Christmas food shop.

4. Use your online shopping basket

Many of us have extra time on our hands because of our restricted social lives and other lifestyle changes due to the pandemic. The temptation to use this time to browse online may be stronger than ever before as it may relieve some boredom at times! For some it has added to the temptation of shopping online and I don’t mean just for essentials such as groceries! As retailers have had to close their door due to different levels of restrictions we depend on the online service to keep up with fashion, technology and lots of different trends. However, always think before you hit the buy button online. No retailer will want to lose your custom, so add your gifts to your shopping baskets or favourites and leave them there without completing the purchase. Sleep on it! You may even receive an email the following day or even a week later from the retailer offering you a discount code. Just bear in mind that there may not be unlimited stock so you must weigh up whether you’re willing to wait a few days and potentially miss out if the item goes out of stock.

5. Start Early

Christmas shopping will be completely different to other years due to the pandemic. You might think it is too early to start thinking about shopping but the holidays are creeping up on us. When it comes to shopping some like to be prepared and for others it’s always a last minute dash to the shops. If you can, start shopping or browsing now. A gift a week can help spread the cost. If you mark something off your gift list each week, by the time you reach December you will have the bulk of your Christmas shopping done.

Remember to keep an eye out for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

6. Shop Local

Where possible, shopping local will not only support your local economy and the Irish economy overall but it may also reduce shipping costs! Many local retailers will deliver gifts nationally, they may also offer discounts if you approach them directly about placing substantial orders on food, meat, or any other gift items.

In addition, smaller retailers often offer more unusual or even personalised gift options than the major retailers.

TOP TIP: Follow local enterprise groups or local retailers on social media to keep up with any special offers they may have running in the lead up to Christmas.

7. Buyer Beware

Christmas brings new opportunities for cyber-crime. A lot of our shopping will take place online this year due to the pandemic, so we all need to be more vigilant coming up to December 25th. Always ensure to use familiar websites that are secure when using your card for online shopping. On Secure Sites where the web address includes ‘https’, remember that a fraudulent site can also be ‘secure’, so don’t rely on ‘https’ to ensure that the website is legitimate. Check your statements regularly as you shop so you don’t have any unexpected surprises. Remember before you buy, if something looks too good to be true, it normally is! Click Here to check out Episode 5 – Fraud from the Find financial wellbeing series for more information.

If you use these tips when preparing for Christmas in 2020, you may be able to stay within a budget you can afford and avoid getting into debt so you can have festive fun.

The information contained in this article has been prepared by Bank of Ireland (“BOI”) for information purposes only. BOI believes any information contained in the article to be accurate and correct at the time of publishing.
Bank of Ireland is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
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