Why You Need To Start Saving Now For Christmas

Hi, loves! Okay, so this post might seem a little random but please bare with me, I promise you’ll be glad of the reminder! Did the title scare you a little? Do you think I’ve gone completely nuts? Maybe I have! Today I’m sharing the reasons why you should start saving, and also helping you put together a little plan so that when December rolls around you’re not scared to check your bank account.

I never used to save for Christmas. It’s literally on the same day every year (Wednesday, right? If you know, you know) and there’s no real excuse not to set money aside each month to help you out with buying your gifts once November/December rolls around. There’s so much more to Christmas than giving gifts, but it’s something most of us love to do. Giving my loved ones gifts that I know they’ll love makes me so much happier than receiving gifts, it’s just the best feeling seeing someone be happy with what you got for them. So, what do you need to do to start saving?

Firstly, you need a plan. Is anyone shocked that I’m suggesting you create a plan? No? Okay, well let’s get started. Write down every single person on your Christmas list this year; that’s going to be your partner, your parents/siblings, your extended family members, friends and even any Secret Santa gifts you may be taking part in. Next to each persons name, you then need to write an amount you’re willing to spend on that person, and that is then your budget for their gift(s). This year, Matt and I decided not to do any ‘big gifts’ for each other, and instead we’re going to plan a trip for the new year (and also save more towards our house!) so we’ve set two limits; one for our ‘main’ gifts, and one for our stocking fillers. We always go overboard at Christmas and spend a small fortune, but really we’re just so happy to spend Christmas together and see both of our families so the the gifts part really isn’t important! I hope I stick to the set budget, because buying gifts for Matt really is one of my favorite things to do and I always feel like I just have to get all the things he’d like, hah!

Now you know how much you’re going to spend per person/couple, add those figures up, and divide it by how many weeks there is until Christmas. If you’re doing this today – if not, why aren’t you doing this today?! – it is 15 weeks until 22nd December. As you don’t want to be waiting for the balance of your money to be saved by the last weekend before Christmas, I’d divide your total by 14; meaning the week before Christmas all of your shopping should be completely done! Of course, you can save more than this figure each week, because the sooner you save that total the sooner you can have that money back for whatever else you want to spend it on. Also, if you’re not able to save that amount each week, maybe take another look at your totals for each person and adjust accordingly; your family and friends don’t need you to spend all of your money on them as that is NOT what Christmas is about, so be realistic with your figures.

So, where are you going to save this money? For me, the most logical thing to do is create another savings account; this means you can see the money mounting up, and you can also easily save each week by adding a standing order to your current account, meaning the money goes out each week and you don’t have to manually do anything. Of course you’ll need to adjust your budget to suit this money going out each week, but that’s another post!

It might also be beneficial to save extra money that you are wanting to spend at Christmas related to giving; we’re all so much more generous at Christmas (although it should be an all year round trait!) and there seems to be lots more giving opportunities. Whether it’s donating to charities, buying food for your local food bank, donating toys for children that don’t have them or something else entirely, even if you saved a few pounds each week you’d have an extra buffer ready to be able to give. Matt and I sent shoeboxes with Operation Christmas Child last year and we’re so excited to do it again; you pay a donation to be able to track your box, and fill it with sweets, toys, games, colouring books etc for children who would otherwise receive nothing on Christmas Day. Ours made it to Africa last year, and I can’t wait to see where they go this year! If you’re interested in participating this year, please check out the details here.

So, maybe you’re now freaking out that you need to save so much each week to be able to buy the gifts you want to for your loved ones. Don’t worry, you have so much time to be able to save, it’s more than three months until Christmas (which for me is now only two pay cheques, oh my GOD!) Here’s a few ways you can save money in the rest of your budget:
– limit eating out; cooking at home is way cheaper (and way more fun) than going out to eat all of the time. Check out Mix And Match Mama for some amazing recipe ideas, you’ll never want to go to a restaurant again!
– make your tea/coffee/hot chocolate at home; instead of stopping by Costa or Starbucks on the daily, make your own and you can take it on the go in the cutest re-usable (and collapsible!) cup. You can still enjoy in moderation, because after all it is Bonfire Spice season, YAY!
– have a No Spend month before December; basically eliminate everything from your budget that isn’t the absolute essentials. Of course you need to pay for your car, home, groceries, petrol etc, but do you need a clothing allowance this month? Or a beauty treatment? Give yourself a little ‘pocket money’ to spend at your own leisure to keep you encouraged, but for the most part you can forego everything but the necessities for a month, it’s life changing I promise you! You will absolutely hit your goal quicker if you do this.
– get creative with date nights; at home date nights (or friend nights) can be just as fun as going out, and as a bonus there’s no need to wear makeup, hallelujah!
– check out sales and offers in the buildup to Christmas; even before Black Friday hits our shelves and screens, there are so many good deals to be found – you just have to look! I like to add a separate column to my Christmas spreadsheet where I can list what I want to buy for each person (Matt’s so lucky because I do all of the choosing for gifts, he just gets to take the credit with me hah!) and then keep an eye out for discounts or deals.

December is always a crazy expensive month; with all of the gifting, giving and partying going on it seems that you’re constantly spending money, so I hope if you do plan a little in advance then you’re not going to feel the pinch so much! Also, if you get most of your December wage to yourself, think of all the extra Christmas chocolates you can pick up! 😉

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post (and don’t think I’m completely mad). Some people save all year round then beef their savings up when Christmas gets closer; do you do that? Or, are you now going to start saving after getting this little kick up the butt? I really hope this helps you, please leave any extra tips and tricks you do too!

-G x

How I’m Changing The Way I Spend Money

Happy Sunday, loves!

Today I’m sharing with you a few of the little changes I’ve made to my spending habits, mostly since the beginning of 2019. We’re only halfway through the second month of the year, but I already feel so much better since implementing a few simple changes. I thought I’d share with you the changes I’ve made, in the hope it may help or inspire you if you’re looking to hold tighter on the reigns of your finances. Aren’t we all…

Matt and I are currently saving for our future home (we’re going to start looking by the end of the year and I’m SO excited at the prospect of this I can barely stand it)! As we’re buckling down on saving more and spending less, whilst still trying to have a life, we’ve been looking at all the things we can do to improve our ability to save.

Budget by category, and track your spending
In my opinion, it’s so important to know how much you get paid, and to categorise your spending in categories at the beginning of the month. I can’t believe some people don’t know their take home pay each month! If that is you, this is a no judgement zone. BUT, please make a budget! I’m begging you! I track my spending loosely on a spreadsheet I made a few years back (it’s colour coded and very pleasing to the eye LOL. I’m so Type A), but as a result I always know how much I have to set aside for bills and fixed monthly expenses. My fixed monthly expenses include things like my phone contract, house fund savings, my car payment and insurance, then my variable monthly expenses include things like holiday savings (to pay off our Summer holiday to Croatia and begin savings for a mini-break to Budapest, I’m so excited!), ‘fun money’, petrol and groceries. I split my money into twelve categories overall, but it’s all down to what works best for you. I personally think it’s really important to have a ‘fun money’ category; whatever amount works for you in your budget; for treating yourself to a few new beauty bits during the month or spending a little extra on date night.

Spending with cash only in shops/supermarkets
I literally never used cash. Ever. I tapped my contactless debit card or Apple pay like it was my job, and rarely carried a full sized purse as I just didn’t need it. My card holder is now strictly reserved for when I carry a small crossbody bag (usually just on the weekend), and day-to-day I now carry my purse with me. Using cash at first felt so strange, it was like being on holiday and trying to work out which coin was which. Yes, really. I felt so awkward the first few times I didn’t pay using just notes as I was scrabbling through my coins, mortified I was holding up the queue. How British of me. Spending with physical cash keeps me accountable in a whole different way, as I think when I use a debit card it often doesn’t feel like real money. I’m not sure if it’s mind over matter, but whenever Matt and I go out for date night and pay in cash rather than on our debit cards we always spend less. If you find yourself overspending on your budget, or just are generally confused where your money is going, I’d highly recommend trying to use just cash only, it puts things into a whole new perspective!

Meal planning
Matt and I started to do this during the last few months of 2018, and by now we nail it every week. Our evening routines vary due to Matt’s shift pattern, but we know what that will be at least a few weeks in advance. As a result, we plan which nights we’re going to cook with fresh ingredients, and which nights we might grab a Sainsbury’s flat bread pizza (the BEST – you need to try the chorizo one!) or an M&S ‘throw it in the oven and wait thirty minutes’ meal. This all depends on what time Matt finishes work, for example on the nights he comes home between 9pm and 9.30pm we quite honestly can’t be bothered to cook and we want something quick and easy so we can catch up on our days and fall into bed! I’d love to write a whole post, detailing our meals for a week – including recipes – if that’s something you’d like to see?

Limiting online shopping
I’m not completely opposed to online shopping, but I no longer feel the need to mindlessly scroll through websites and buy things just for the buzz of buying. Before re-training the way I think about money, I shopped online way more than I’d like to admit, and often once I’d opened the package, at least half of the novelty had already worn off. I prefer to shop in stores anyway; to feel, smell and look at things properly. I have a few online loves – such as Feel Unique – that I know I’ll purchase from for years to come, but I feel less of an obligation to purchase online. I’d also really recommend taking twenty minutes out of your day to unsubscribe from all of the mailing lists you’ve signed up to over the years, this will definitley ease any extra temptation! One thing I will never get tired of buying online is books; as much as I love browsing Waterstone’s, I can’t justify paying full price when I know (usually) Amazon will be way cheaper! My Amazon ‘Save For Later’ list is brimming with books to order over the coming months.

Opening separate savings accounts
This is one of the best things I’ve done to get into a better habit of saving money! I have a regular old ‘Emergency Fund’ then I also have a ‘House Fund’ and a ‘Holiday Fund’. Matt and I are so excited to buy our first home together and it’s something we talk about all the time, but it’s also something that we don’t need to put added pressure onto ourselves for. We are so blessed to spend every day/night together and we have two houses right now – so we feel very lucky and grateful for that. Having a holiday fund allows me to set aside money each money to pay off our upcoming holidays – I’m so excited! – then when that’s paid off, I can carry on adding money to it as we’re planning a city break to Budapest later in the year. My ‘Emergency Fund’ is a personal fund, which is to take money from as/when needed for genuine emergencies. Sadly, a Mulberry purse doesn’t count as an emergency. I have direct debits set up which automatically add money into these accounts throughout the month, then if I have anything left over at the end of the month I’ll add extra into a specific account (right now any extra pennies are reserved for our holiday fund).

Implement the thirty day rule on any splurge/impulse purchases
This is SUCH a great tip that I read/heard somewhere ages ago, and it works so well for me. I really struggled with this at the beginning of January, but I’m now set in a new habit and it’s begining to feel second nature. I use space in my planner, or sometimes in the Notes app on my phone, to write down any of the things I’m lusting over, whether it’s a new beauty product or a clothing item. In the past, if I saw something I’d quite like to buy, I’d open up my laptop and purchase without thinking about it. This is exactly what I was trying to avoid, so writing things down as a decoy to not buy them was a totally different concept to me. The whole point is to then wait (at least) thirty days before purchasing, as if after the thirty days you still want that item it’s not a silly purchase. I was making so many frivolous purchases in 2018, and I’m quite shocked that I haven’t bought one thing on my list that has passed the thirty day term. So, it really was something I lusted after in the moment, and I don’t regret not buying at all!

Thank you so much for reading! Did you find any of my points helpful, or did they reasonate with you as something you’d like to introduce into your life? What is your best tip for managing your money better?

-G x