How to manage your money and stay debt free this Christmas


By Bob Atoo
December 4, 2014

SantaAs the iconic television advert has now informed us – holidays are coming...

But what the giant, red Coca-Cola truck fails to disclose is that, for many of us, this means: here comes the stress of buying presents for everyone, splashing out on that huge Christmas food shop and not to mention all those Christmas parties to attend.

It’s an expensive time of year.

We’ve put together our top tips on how to buy Christmas presents on a budget, trim the fat off the cost of Christmas dinner and still have the money to celebrate the festive period in style.

Let’s face it, nobody wants to start the New Year buried in debt!


Christmas on a budget - make a list, and check it twice!

If you want to do Christmas on a budget then the first thing you’ll need, unsurprisingly, is a budget.

Before you start your Christmas shopping, you should write a list of everyone you need to buy for.

Work out how much you can afford to spend on each person, and be realistic – this is for your own benefit. And more importantly, once you've worked out your budget, stick to it.

If you have any ideas on what you'd like to buy people, write them down too - if you head to the high street with a list of exactly what you need to buy, you’ll be less likely to spend more money on ‘bits and bobs’ that you don’t really need.

If you're stuck for ideas then ask people to write you a list with ideas of what they would like.

You don’t necessarily have to stick to the list or buy everything on the list, but having ideas there will help you.

Bob’s tip: You could share lists with family and friends to avoid getting someone the same present. You could even club together to get someone a more expensive gift.


Shop around

Christmas debt guideShopping online is a great way to compare prices.

There are plenty of price comparison websites you can use such as Price Runner and Mega Shop Bot which will help you save some pennies.

If shopping online, be sure to sign up to a cashback site like Quidco - they offer discounts on all of the UK's most popular brands including clothing, electricals and even holidays.

Even when shopping in-store, it’s always worth checking your smartphone to see if you could get a better deal either online or with a different retailer.


Hand-made gifts

Making your own Christmas presents can be a great way to save money and it makes gifts extra special and allows you to add that personal touch. Not only that but, if you have children, it can make for a great weekend activity.

christmas cheerThere is an endless list of things to make, but here’s a selection of our favourites:

Jams and chutneys – for the Delia’s amongst you. There’s hundreds of festive jams and chutney recipes online for you to follow, or you can be adventurous and create your own.

Christmas decorations and ornaments – the world is your oyster with arts and crafts for Christmas. You can create things from paper, fabric, wool - even the cardboard toilet roll tubes have their uses!

Christmas cards – why not make your own Christmas cards this year and have fun doing it! Get some glitter, some festive stickers and get creative.

Christmas hampers/boxes – instead of forking out for hampers and Christmas boxes that have been prepared by the retailer, why not make your own. You can buy little bits and bobs to suit your recipient and present them in one beautifully decorated gift box.

When making your own Christmas presents, use your talents! If you’re great at baking – bake presents! Who doesn’t love receiving some festive biscuits and cakes!?


Raise extra cash - how can I make money for Christmas?

christmas bah humbug

Saving for Christmas isn’t easy, but there are some great ways to make a bit of extra money if you’re running close to your budget.

If you have children, it is almost guaranteed that after Father Christmas has been, you will be surrounded by new toys and have no space to put them away come January.

So before Christmas, why not sort through all your children’s toys and clothes? You could do your own while you're at it!

Get together anything that hasn’t been played with for a long time, hasn’t been worn in a long time or things that are broken.

You could have a car boot sale and make some extra pennies to spend over the festive season.

You could even donate things (although nothing that is broken) to charity shops or children’s hospitals.


Secret Santa

Christmas SantaIf there is a group of you that all buy gifts for each other, for example a group of friends or colleagues, why not do a ‘secret Santa’?

The concept is simple - everyone picks a name from a hat and, instead of buying something for everyone, you just buy one gift for that person - it can be a great way of saving money and having fun at the same time.

A common idea is to set a budget so everybody gets the same amount spent on them.


Get together for Christmas dinner

christmas chestnutsIf you have a large family or a big group of friends, you could all get together for Christmas dinner and hold it at one house - you can rotate this every year to make sure that one person doesn’t get stuck as the host every year.

You can save money here by all contributing to that big Christmas food shop – some things are naturally more expensive than others, so try to plan out who’s buying what in advance. The person who buys the turkey will be paying much more than the person picking up the Brussels sprouts!

You can also save time and effort by each bringing a different dish round for dinner.

For example, if mum makes the best roast potatoes, she brings those, or if your brother can’t cook, he can bring the cheese and biscuits.

If you want to, nominate one person to sort out Christmas day games – whether that’s in the form of board gamespass the parcel, a game of ‘guess the Christmas song’ or even a Christmas present wrap-athon!


Save money with Bobatoo

Here at we offer a great range of insurance deals and money-saving advice to help you throughout the year.

Find out more and get a quote today using the below links:

Car insurance

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Life insurance

Travel insurance

We also have a guide on how to use a prepaid card to shop securely online - which will come in handy over the festive season!