Time to make that Christmas to-do list

Forward planning is the best way to keep a lid on spending at Christmas.

Forward planning is the best way to keep a lid on spending at Christmas.

That’s why you should start planning for Christmas 2013 right now!

Have you ever had a year where you were financially prudent for 11 months - spending no more than you earned - only to destroy all your good work with an orgy of festive spending in
December? Most of us have.

So how can you stop that happening?

Well, the best solution is to plan ahead, and we mean a long way ahead. We reckon you should start planning for Christmas 2013 now or on St Stephen’s Day at the latest! We kid you not.

Here are some things you can do:

1. Take advantage of the January sales

You could find some excellent Christmas bargains if you think ahead. Put cut-price Christmas cards, wrapping paper, decorations and early gifts at the top of your list.

2. Start a special savings account for Christmas

Set up a separate savings account just for your Christmas spending. Pay in a small amount each month – perhaps just €10 – and promise yourself that you won’t touch it until December. Then you’ll have a nice nest egg to cover your Christmas costs in December.

3. Work out a budget

Calculate the entire cost of Christmas early on. That way, you’ll know how much to save over the year. Once you’ve worked out the cost, just make sure you stick to it and don’t get distracted by impulse spending.

In fact, budgeting is a great strategy for controlling all your spending, not just for Christmas. One of the best budgeting tools out there is monitoring your weekly/monthly spend so you can see exactly how much money is coming in and how much is going out.

You can also monitor your success against your individual budgeting targets including Christmas. So you’ll quickly know if your Christmas spending is running out of control and you can take quick
action to slow things down.

4. Buy a present a month

Another way to spread out your Christmas spending is to buy a present a month. It’s also a way to stop impulse buying.