Christmas is financially tight for all of us, so if you want to boost your budget, try these top tips from financial planner Warren Shute.

1. Buy gifts throughout the year.

A challenge Christmas brings, amongst other things, is the higher than normal spending over a short period of time. Big expenses need planning, so why not either buy gifts throughout the year and stock pile them, especially during sale times, or set a regular standing order to save into a Christmas account. My grandparents would save throughout the year in jars, so this is the modern day version. Perhaps too late for Christmas 2018, but start in January for next year.

2. Have a gifting rule.

The number of gifts can often take the shine away from Christmas making it an indulgence of excessive spending.

Why not agree a gift rule with your friends and family and perhaps limit your children’s gifting to - something they want, something they need, something they could wear, something they would read?

3. Buy useful stocking fillers.

If you have a Christmas stocking, why not look to the year ahead at what they may need and buy useful items for them to unwrap and stuff into the stocking – my daughter always wants new colouring pencils and my son loves new body spray, these may be in their stocking this year!

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

4. Gift what they need.

The worst thing in the world, in my view, is buying a gift for buying’s sake! If it’s not thoughtful and appropriate for the recipient don’t waste your time and money.

Stop buying forgettable £20 gifts, for them to exchange, or wrap to give on next year. Consider pooling your buying power to buy more appropriate gifts collectively – nobody needs anymore £20 forgettable tat!

5. Seasonable work.

There are plenty of businesses who are particularly busy around Christmas, why not get out and enjoy the Christmas cheer and earn some additional pounds. Restaurants, bars, supermarkets and delivery companies are all busier and looking for seasonal workers.

6. Have a pre-loved Christmas.

Consider a pre-owned gift list only with your friends and family. All gifts must be from eBay, Facebook marketplace or charity shops – it makes the job more interesting, fun and will cut your spending in half.

7. Go the homemade route

If the pre-owned option is not your style, how about all gifting must be homemade? Jumpers, cardigans, cakes, Jams and cards, the list is extensive!

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

8. Use a Christmas Jar

Do you find Christmas too tricky to save for? Why not get yourself a Christmas Jar! It's simple to run, you place the jar in the family area where you all generally get ready to leave the house, this may be your kitchen or your hallway and before you leave the house, you place into the jar all of your loose change, and this go’s for all the family – you’ll be supposed how far your loose change can go at Christmas!

9. Buy on sales.

To help you Christmas budget stretch that much further, wait to see the Christmas sales before you start shopping. Black Friday on 23rd November and Cyber Monday on 26 November offer a chance for you to save – but don’t get caught up with the festive excitement, shop with a list and stick to it.

10. Focus on making memories.

Remember what Christmas is about and don’t go overboard with the gifts. Your children won’t remember everything under the tree when they grow up, but they will remember the time you spent together, the games and laughs you had and the traditions your family held and the memories you made.

It’s a great time for you to remind them no matter how tough you have it, there are always reasons to be grateful and there are many who are less fortunate at this time of year.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

11. Shop around for cheap decorations

Making your home festive, is a big part of Christmas, but make sure you shop around for all the discounted decorations, wrapping paper and accessories.

12. Become a house or pet sitter.

Many people travel over the Christmas period and want to make sure their homes and pets receive the same loving care while they’re away and if you love animals this is ideal. Set up a profile on websites like House Sitters UK or Trusted House Sitter. Sitting in a new house or hosting a dog or cat during Christmas can be profitable and fun.

13. Give a gift for each month of the year.

I read this one in a newsletter and love it. Why not make a series of gifts for the recipient to open throughout the year, the gifts don’t need to be expensive, but thoughtful, with a note on each gift explaining what you did.

January could be a calendar, inside take the time to put into the calendar everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries. February could be chocolates for Valentine’s Day. March could be Mother’s Day and a baby picture with your children, with a note of everything you remember of the day they were born. One of the summer months could be children’s’ play bubbles to go out in the sun and have some fun! Then you put all 12 boxes into one large box. This way they have a place to keep the boxes until they are opened!

14. Start a Christmas savings account.

Allocate a standing order payment from your Bills Account to a separate Christmas account each month, to save regularly for your Christmas expense next year.

15. Last post

The cost of Christmas cards and postage have both risen over the years, so if you are keen to send Christmas cards make sure you send them second class and ensure you send them by 18th December so that make it in time for Christmas.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

16. Set a holiday spending goal.

Father Christmas makes a list and checks it twice, and you should do the same thing with your Christmas budget! The best way to make sure you don’t go overboard this Christmas is to make your budget and stick to it. That way you’ll know exactly how much you have to spend on gifts for family and friends, parties, Christmas decorations, and everything in between!

Once you have your Christmas budget ready to go, start trying some of these ways to make some extra cash or cut cost corners to save money for Christmas. You’ll be amazed at how a few small, intentional changes can impact your holiday budget with tidings of great joy!

Warren Shute CFP is a multi-award winning financial planner and the author of the bestselling personal finance book The Money Plan available on Amazon for £11.99, or via WarrenShute.com, gift wrapped just for Christmas.