Money Matters: Guilty of overspending at Christmas? Real Parents Share Tips on Cutting Back

Ah, the lure of overspending during the festive season – if you’re anything like us, you’ll find it hard to avoid it. After all, it is nice to be in a position to splash out, especially at Christmas. But if you have a young family and/or you’re worried about the current cost-of-living crisis, perhaps you’re keen to cut back this year. In this – the latest article in our Money Matters series – we focus on overspending in December and how you can instead enjoy Christmas on a budget, via hints and tips from real parents. Read on…

Make a Budget


If you haven’t started your Christmas shopping yet, fear not; while it’s always a good idea to start early (to help you snag year-round bargains), there are still plenty of ways you can cut back if you’ve left it until December.


A cheaper Christmas doesn’t have to mean a no-frills Christmas – and if you’re planning Christmas on a budget, it’s a good idea to…er…make a budget. That means logging onto your laptop and using Excel to create the spreadsheet of all spreadsheets: one that will take into account your income and outgoings and include what expendable money you’ll have left for gifts and food.


If you’re not a fan of spreadsheets, break out a notebook and make a budget – the old-fashioned way – on paper. Find a handy budgeting guide here to help you get ahead. In the few weeks we have left before December 25, consider cutting back on luxuries, putting aside the cash you’ve saved to spend on loved ones – or on the big festive feast.


“I’m guilty of overspending at Christmas,” says Samantha*, a 35-year-old mum of two from Leicester. This year, though, I’m following the ‘4 Gift Christmas Challenge’ when shopping for my kids’ presents: ‘Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read’.


Samantha says that she will probably end up buying a few extra treats besides those, but she is going to try and stick to the challenge as closely as possible.


Prioritise Purchases – Particularly Presents


Is it really necessary to buy for everyone on your usual Christmas shopping list? If not, perhaps you can agree with family members to instead just buy for one another’s children, or even set up a ‘Secret Santa’, whereby everyone just buys a gift for one person in the family. You can agree a budget and each pull a name out of a hat to determine who you are buying a present for.


Maureen, aged 60 from Lancaster, says: “My friends and I agreed some years ago to only buy for each other’s children – and even though the kids are now grown up, we still treat them. We don’t buy for each other anymore; we have everything we need – we tend to prioritise going out for a meal at Christmas, or better yet, cooking for each other and saving even more money.”


Shop Second-hand


You’d be surprised what you can pick up on sites like eBay, Depop and Vinted.


Sophie, a 42-year-old mum of four from Halifax, says she swears by Vinted when she has a lot of gifts to buy. “The site is full of new items and I look for things that still have their tags or labels, to bag bargains I just wouldn’t find elsewhere. I’ve been able to buy one of my boys a smart shirt to wear over the festive period for a fraction of the price on the high street.


“I also try to shop local, where possible.” she continues, adding: “while it may not save me money, I prefer to support small businesses and feel much better for doing so.”


Don’t Get Sucked Into Christmas ‘Deals’


As the Save the Student site quite rightly points out, money-saving deals aren’t always what they seem – so try not to get sucked into splashing the cash on these so-called bargains and instead buy only what you need.


Black Friday sales and pre-Christmas offers only make sense if you were actually going to buy the discounted item(s) anyway. Instead, you could enjoy Christmas on a budget by taking advantage of price-tracking sites, which let you in on where to buy the products you have your eye on – and when they’re at the best price.


Sites like TopCashback and Honey are also worth checking out, as they allow you to make the most of discounts on everything from clothing to homeware, while also earning cashback on your purchases.


“I’m a huge fan of Honey,” says 39-year-old Emma from Maidstone. “I have a little one and although we are not going mad spending on her this year, we have been able to get a few bargains by using these money-saving sites.”


Take it In Turns to Host


While it’s lovely to go out during the festive season, why not host a Christmassy gathering at home instead? You and your friends could take it in turns to have everyone round – and perhaps people could bring along a dish each, perfect for a cheap Jacob’s Join-style affair and ideal for Christmas on a budget.


Sally, 36, from Morecambe, has three boys. “Christmas can be costly”, she tells us, adding: “I love spending on my boys, so I tend to cut back in other ways, forgoing Christmas nights out and instead inviting people round for nibbles and a natter.”


Above All, Enjoy Yourself


Remember this: Christmas isn’t about flashing the cash. Don’t spend more than you can afford this year; look for ways you can cut back on everything from partywear to tableware and be aware that a festive season with your family, friends – and your health – is more important than a mountain of gifts and more food than you know what to do with.


Want to ensure your money is working as hard for you as it should be – in the run up to Christmas and beyond? Check out our range of financial products here on the site – and do not hesitate to get in touch with our team if you have a question or two or want to understand their terms and conditions. 


*names and locations have been changed.

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