There are now fewer than 70 days left until Christmas, and although we don't really want to see the gaudy shop displays full of tinsel that get earlier every year yet, it's still a good time to consider how best to fund the holiday period.
Put some money aside every month now - Given that most of us are likely to spend more in the immediate approach to and during the festive period than we normally would, it's probably a good idea to do budgeting in advance and put some money aside - so that come mid-December, you don't have to dig too much into money you either don't have, or money you're going to need in January.Keep an eye on your spending Keep track of where your money is being spent, and to make sure you stay on budget for your Christmas savings. It gets harder in winter with increased higher heating bills and the cold weather making it hard to walk or cycle to your destination, so use Money Dashboard's budgeting software to monitor your income and spending and make sure you stay on target.Kids don't always need the latest gadgets - When I was little, which really wasn't that long ago, I'm sure I wasn't that bothered whether the presents I got were imported top of the range goods, or came from a primary-coloured local shopping centre as long as it made me happy and it didn't break I would be beaming with joy. We may often want the latest pricey upgrades and bells-and-whistles models but it's probably not going to worry our little ones too much.Bargain hunt - without the impulse - The art of designing shops is based on making us unable to resist purchasing something we probably don't need so at a time when we're being showered with the need to spend, it might be best to go in armed with a shopping list, much as you might do in a supermarket. Conversely, if you do see offers or discounts that would make great presents or party planning, it could be useful to get it now before you end up finding yourself panic-buying in mid-December. If you need credit, apply carefully - Whether it comes to buying presents, a big family dinner or a Christmas vacation, many people will want to use credit. But if you do, make sure your credit report is up to date and that the information on it is accurate. Even small details like the way your name and address is recorded could have a significant impact. Try to avoid making several applications close together as this can signal financial stress. You can see your credit report and Experian Credit Score whenever you want, with a 30-day trial of Experian CreditExpert.
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Haggle to get the price you want - You may think it's merely the preserve of the exotic souk or the concert ticket tout, but there isn't much that cannot be discounted, so it's up to you to persuade them to do it. Remember that you have nothing to lose, as all retailers ultimately want your custom.Buying on credit can give you protection - Christmas is a prime time for buying things that are either unwanted, don't work properly or don't fit so it's a good idea to ensure you are protected not only by keeping your receipts (which not all of us do with gifts), but with the protection that buying on credit can offer. If you buy goods or services on your credit card, you have extra protection if things go wrong compared with paying by cash or even debit card, under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Just make sure you don't get carried away and can afford to pay off your credit card in January.
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