9 useful tips on how to afford Christmas when you have kids
This month I am bringing you something a bit different. With just 24 days until Christmas, I know most parents are feeling the financial stress and pressure of buying Christmas presents for their children, family and friends.
Life changes dramatically when you go from being an independent earning enough money for yourself to suddenly becoming a busy parent who is stretched both time and money wise. At this time of year, we all want to treat our loved ones with gifts to show our love, appreciation and gratitude. Yet, where are we supposed to find an extra £200+ to do this? Is Christmas really worth getting into debt for?
Recently I have spoken with 83 parents and asked them their biggest money saving and making tips on how to afford Christmas when you have children. Here are 9 of the most useful ways to find the extra cash for Christmas
I have split these tips into 2 categories; what you can do for this year and further tips you can use for next year.
If you don’t have the funds to buy new items or products for your children this Christmas, consider purchasing their gifts secondhand. You can pick up nearly new items on Ebay, Amazon Marketplace, Gumtree and Facebook groups.
You don’t have to buy grotty and poor quality items. It is amazing what you can find in good condition or barely used for a significant saving. Another option is to speak to friends who have older children than you, and see if they are selling items that you are looking for. This is a great way to support each other, you can buy Christmas presents for a fraction of the cost and they receive extra spending money to put towards their own Christmas.
If you would to give back to someone who really needs support more than you or your children, then take a look at local charity shops. It is a wonderful feeling to know your purchases are going towards a good cause.
This one of my favourite ways to plan my Christmas present list so that I do not go over budget, probably because I am addicted to lists! Write a list of each person or couple you would like to buy a present for, put a budget next to their name and stick to it.
Choose a present that they want or need rather than something for the sake of it. Be sure to stick to the budget without fail! A great one for your children recommended by the mums in my survey, is the four gift rule, which is actually the five gift rule. Buy something they want, something they need, something they wear, something they read and something you know your child would really love.
The meaning of Christmas
My favourite one which was highlighted by the majority of parents was Christmas is about “Presence not presents”. It is very easy to get carried away with the focus of Christmas being about presents. Once children reach 3 and above, it is often an expectation that they receive presents as the main part of Christmas.
One mum said “remind your kids that not everyone has the luxuries we have” and another shared “Christmas is about who is around the table not what is under the Christmas tree”. I love that. Teach your children that many people do not have a family, a home, their health or feel loved.
I see many parents now put together a Christmas Eve Box for their children, how lovely would it be to make up Christmas boxes for your local homeless centre and drop them off on Christmas Eve. Or when your children are old enough volunteer with them so they can see how little others have. Changing the meaning of Christmas means that your children begin to learn how lucky they are. After all, there is always someone that has less than you.
Someone else’s treasure
What’s the saying another man’s junk is another man’s treasure? This is so true. Start generating cash by selling your unused and unwanted items. At home, we currently have a huge bag of “to sell” items which will be put on Ebay before Christmas. The other night we spent the evening putting unused phones, cds and books onto Music Magpie, a great app where you can easily sell your products.
You can even choose to not leave the house to send them. Individual items do not make much money but it soon adds up, within just 90 minutes of sorting and scanning we had made £50. Take a look at your children’s toys, games and clothes that they no longer use and sell them on Facebook selling groups or Gumtree.
Are you loyal to a supermarket all year around? If you use their reward card such as the Morrisons More Card, Tesco Clubcard or Sainsburys Nectar Card then check to see what rewards you receive. This is a brilliant way to buy presents without actually spending money.
I can only personally comment on the Tesco Clubcard as this is our local supermarket. We have personally used our clubcard to buy a floor steam cleaner (admittedly I never use this since having a child), meals out as a family, our video monitor (worth £100+).
You earn them so why not use them to help you out this Christmas. You can also join Tesco Christmas Savers, where all your vouchers are sent to you in November and you also receive an extra bonus based on how many points you have accrued. To go one step further with this if you have a Tesco Credit card, and use it in store you can earn even more clubcard points. Take a look at what your local supermarket offer you for your loyalty and start using the rewards this year to soften the financial blow this Christmas
Many parents said they used Park Christmas Savings to overcome huge bills at Christmas. Park isn’t something I have used personally but I was pleasantly surprised to hear how it works. Decide how much you can save for Christmas per week or month, set up a direct debit, choose your gift cards and vouchers you would like to receive to spend on everyone’s presents, then Park sends out the vouchers ready for you to spend for Christmas. Or you can use the “credit” to spend with Park directly as they also offer a wide range of hampers and gifts.
The Early Bird Catches The Worm
The top money saving tip reported from the parents I spoke with was to start early. Whether this be on Boxing day, January, Spring or September. One parent shared she bought one present a month for the whole year to take the pressure off December finances. This is a great tip if you are organised, but also bear in mind that if you are buying for your children, then their likes, interests and hobbies may have changed from this boxing day to next Christmas Day.
Christmas Bank Account
A good friend of mine told me about this one, which I really like. Open a bank account, it can be a current account or an ISA. Transfer a set amount every month starting from January, even just saving £10 per month will take £120 worth of financial stress off when December hits next year. Make sure the payments are realistic so it is sustainable for the whole year. Alternatively you could take part in the penny a day challenge, then when Christmas day hits you will have saved £667.95 in your gift fund. Find out more about Penny a day here.
Lastly, start finding ways to earn cashback on purchases you make throughout the year. Cashback saving parents stated they used websites such as Top Cashback for food shopping, restaurants, hotel stays, absolutely anything and then released the cashback in time to do their Christmas shopping. It is worth bearing in mind, that some company payouts take longer than others, make sure to check the guidance on the Topcashback website. As long as you are organised, it seems cashback is a fantastic way of finding extra cash to survive Christmas financially when you have kids.
So there you have it, the 9 most useful ways to manage the financial pressure of Christmas when you have children. Be sure to add any of your own money saving or making tips in the comments for this festive period.
Remember if you are feeling exhausted from your lack of sleep and are gearing up to push through the festive period on limited energy and enthusiasm then join us on A Very Mindful Christmas.
This 12 day online course which gives you expert advice from me as a Family Sleep Consultant, Verity Smith as an inspirational Positive Psychologist and Catherine Jeans The Family Nutrition Expert on how to boost your mood and happiness when you are not sleeping