Christmas is fast approaching so what can you do to keep your finances on track?

Our 20 quick Christmas money saving tips that can help you enjoy Christmas and avoid going into a ‘cold sweat’ when the credit card bill comes during January.

1. Don’t panic! – There is still time to research and plan ahead but you must get started. Sit down and start organising your thoughts, your gifts and budgets.

2. Use cash or debit cards rather than credit cards – This tip for many people will be the best weapon against overspending, as you will only spend what is available to spend

3. Can you make better use of shopping on-line? – A great way to shop and compare – just practice. And with the new ‘scanning’ apps for phones it easy to compare while at the shops

4. A great time of year to learn ‘The art of negotiation’ – Haggle down the prices at the shops to at least match the prices you found on the internet

5. Keep a running total – Keep a close check on your spending – maybe by compiling the running total on your mobile phone or in a spreadsheet – especially if people are meant to be repaying you for buying a gift on their behalf!

6. Become a Lone-Wolf Shopper – People who shop alone generally spend less money than those who shop with friends and family members.. Being on your own means you can set the agenda, the pace and the cost.

7. Make your own Christmas cards – Get the kids involved it’s all part of the fun and who knows, you could have a budding Picasso in the family! Don’t post too many – make use of email and social media

8. Search Charity shops and garage sales for used Christmas decorations – As we know they only get used for a short while and therefore, they should be in very good condition

9. What about food and drink, can you get your orders in and pay for it now? – Buy regularly leading into Christmas. You don’t want to be caught out with the crowds doing last minute expensive grocery shopping

10. Which presents were a hit last year? –  The presents that worked last year should be a hit again so buy similar ones. If you got the ‘Oh, that’s interesting’ response, buy something totally different. No point wasting money on gifts that are not wanted

11. Calling friends and family overseas? – Get onto the net and use free providers such as Skype and facetime. Very easy and can save a minor fortune in telephone bills

12. Buying for kids? – Don’t try ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.  Be honest with yourself and the kids – buy only what you can afford and stick to that budget

13. Thinking of taking a break? – Unfortunately, Christmas is usually the most expensive time of the year for holidays. Spend a little more to enjoy yourself at home and consider having the break later in the year when it will be easier on the bank balance

 14. Can the big presents be bought in the January sales? – Older kids and adults appreciate practical gifts and they can get better value in the New Year sales. Consider buying gift cards that can be used after Christmas at the sales

15. Watch your emotions when out buying gifts – The shopping centres are decorated with tinsel and playing Christmas Carols – they want you in the mood to spend, spend and spend. Make a list before you go to the malls with a spending limit to each item and stick to it

16. Create time to get your gifts – If you leave it to the last minute there is a greater chance you will get in a panic and overspend

17. Having your friends and family over doesn’t need to cost a lot – Baking with family and friends is a great way to share time leading up to Christmas as opposed to buying fancy foods from the shops

18. Invite a lonely friend, neighbour or someone who is struggling financially to your Christmas party – Probably the greatest gift you can give this year by helping the less fortunate

19. Give time to help out a charity at Christmas and involve the kids – Get the family and neighbours involved – Giving time is a precious gift

20. Look after yourself and the family – The festive season is one of the busiest for our emergency services and hospitals.  A trip to the hospital may well blow the budgets of all the visitors. Take your time getting to your destinations, enjoy the company of friends and family – relax.