There’s never a good time to be worried about money or feeling the pressure from overdue bills. With that said, Christmas is probably the worst time to have debt hanging over you. Now I’ll not for one second pretend I have a great track record with money, in fact I’ve made some shortsighted decisions in the past.
However, I’m now really frugal – probably mostly by necessity. As a freelancer whilst I do make a decent income I definitely have cash flow problems. Most months I am invoicing for work done 4 or 6 weeks ago and I’ve already spent half the cash. With that said I’ve been on 7 trips away this year and in a few weeks we fly to New York so I’m clearly pretty good at saving.
Here are a few of my moneysaving tips for Christmas and ideas to help freelances be more prepared for this costly time of year.
- Set money aside with the express purpose of spending it on Christmas presents and related expenses. I like to pop it in another account as soon as I get it and pretend it never existed – there’s less temptation to dip in this way.
- Earn as you spend throughout the year. Use cash back sites and reward cards to collect points and make savings.
- If you need a credit card make sure you have a 0% one and switch when the interest free period runs out. For more info on the best 0% cards available check this guide.
- Start your Christmas shopping early, really early. If you want to be super prepared grab bargains in the January and summer sales. This works particularly well with kids clothes I find.
- Make Christmas more about presence and less about presents. Think family time and making memories.
- Hunt for the best discounts and offers – my favourite is Hot UK Deals, endless bargains submitted here by the community.
- Think about making some of your Christmas presents this year – Pinterest is full of ideas and inspiration.
- Another great alternative gift is your time and skill – maybe you can offer to babysit, tutor or make something for a friend as opposed to giving them a wrapped gift.
- Don’t be a snob – there are some fab pieces to be found in charity shops and on eBay. Particularly when you’re looking at this for kids with a short lifespan.
- In the same vein, sell your outdated things on to raise more cash. We’ve put Luisas jumperoo on Gumtree this year as she’s outgrown it. It’s in fab condition having only being used for 3/4 months.
Hopefully you still have time to implement some of these tips and save a bit of money this Christmas. If you’re feeling the squeeze I’d definitely reccomend thinking ahead to next year now. Start January off right by sorting out your finances so that next Christmas you’re not feeling the pressure.
The best place to start is by figuring out exactly where you stand. Make a list or spreadsheet of any debts as well as monthly income and regular outgoings. Prioritise debts starting with clearing any costly credit cards. Making a self implemented payment plan (catchy phrase by Matt, ooooh) is a great way to have better discipline with your money.
If your debt is significant and you’re just not managing you might want to think about speaking to a professional or visiting your local Citizens Advice Bureau for help. An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) can be a great option to help get back in control of your money but that’s something you’ll want to get expert advice on.
At the end of the day, Christmas is an exciting time of year and no-one should spend it stressing about unpaid bills and worrying about making ends meet in January. Get focussed now and this time next year you’ll be glad you did.