• It’s time to start Christmas preparations and think about your budget.

    Yup, we said it and there’s no denying that Christmas is on it’s way, so out come the Christmas emojis 🎄 🎁 🎉

    To misquote that old song ‘It’s the most expensive time of the year’ and with Christmas just over 10 weeks away and shops starting to display their Christmas wares, now is a good time to start preparing, with particular focus on your budget. The financial strains caused by the pandemic is going to make 2020 celebrations tough for many Islanders.

    People celebrate Christmas in different ways. Some like the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings served on a beautifully decorated table, and others prefer a more casual day. But, the one thing we all have in common is the financial burden it puts on our income. A recent study suggests the average cost of Christmas is around £500.

    Many of you may have started your shopping already which is a great way to spread the cost and avoid the financial hit of paying for everything in December. To help you with your preparations and money management, we’ve created a Christmas budget planner which includes a breakdown of many Christmas items that you may need to buy and some tips on how to keep the cost down.

    Bargain spotting is always fun and this year Amazon Prime members can take advantage of the annual ‘Amazon Prime Day’ which, due to COVID, has been delayed from July. It’s actually spread over two days and officially starts tomorrow (13 & 14 October), although deals are already available. This is great timing for anyone looking to bag an early Christmas bargain, be it a present, an extra chair or sofa bed for guests, or that new TV to watch the Christmas movies and sport on.

    Gift vouchers are a popular and easy choise as presents. However, many retailers, both large and small, have struggled in recent years with some on the brink of collapse and others already fallen into administration. With this in mind, it’s important to note that a gift voucher will often not be honoured, if a company collapses.

    Some of our other tips are:

    1. Don’t forget your everyday bills still need paying.
    2. Don’t rely on an overdraft or borrow from unauthorised lenders. 
    3. Remember to clear your credit card balance straight away. 
    4. Always buy from a reputable company and do your research.
    5. Check and track prices using sites such as camelcamelcamel.com who monitor Amazon prices throughout the year. 
    6. Sign up to store newsletters and follow your favourite brands on social media to see their offers.
    7. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member (usually £7.99 per month) take advantage of the 30 day free trials. If you time it right you can be a member during either Prime Day or Black Friday. Remember to diarise the cancellation date, so that your membership is cancelled before they automatically take the next month’s payment. 
    8. Annual Black Friday sales start in stores and online in late November. 
    9. If you’ve got a store account or membership which offers loyalty points, now’s the time to cash them in. 
    10. Posting Christmas cards and parcels will add to your costs. Consider sending e-cards and buying from stores (usually online) that offer free delivery directly to the present recipient (with strict instructions ‘Do Not Open until 25th December’)! 
    11. Take advantage of retailers, both in-store and online, offering a free gift wrapping service. 
    12. To help the environment and your budget, buy brown paper rather than expensive Christmas paper. You can make it personal by decorating it by hand. 
    13. Get the family involved and have fun making your own decorations. For example, start drying out collect fallen pine cones and slices of orange to hang on the tree. 
    14. If you have some of your budget left over, why not buy next year’s gifts in the January sales. 

    As mad as it sounds, January is the time to start saving for next Christmas (without adding pressure to you regular expenditure). If you put away just £5 a week, by the start of December you’ll have £240. Double that to £10 a week and you will have £480 towards next year’s cost.