Limit the December booze to lose the January Blues

Limit the December booze to lose the January Blues
If you’re anything like us you’ll have been counting down the days until the festive season really kicks in, but have you taken into account the extras you’ll need to splash out on? You might have planned for presents, decorations and gifts, but don’t forget those Christmas gatherings.

What is the average cost of Christmas?

It’s been estimated that the average cost of Christmas for 2017, split between gifts, food and drink, is £821 per household in the UK. This is a marginal increase from last year, but almost double the European average - we do seem to like Christmas!

The majority of supermarkets have seen an increase in food prices. Sainsbury’s are charging 67% more for parsnips than in 2016, which is certainly going to have an impact on the spread for some British households who may be doing Christmas on a budget.

This year, we’re also seeing a battle of Prosecco, with some supermarkets charging a mere £5 for the popular fizzy tipple. Overall, the nation has already spent £142m on alcohol for the festive period.

But when all's said and done, what impact is the real cost of Christmas going to have on your finances going into 2018? You’ve spent most of the month going out, seeing friends and enjoying good food - so what happens next?

What are the January blues?

It’s quite common for people to experience a lull in mood during January, with the dark mornings and evenings continuing, without the promise of presents and merriment at the end, it comes as no surprise.

Some also find that they have a financial hangover from the year before. Spending too much over the festive period and going out regularly can leave people worrying about money. You may have also taken out a Christmas loan, which was a quick fix at the time, but now you need to face the reality of repaying it.

Not to worry, as there are things you can do to beat the January blues and put you in a good position for the rest of the year.

Personal financial tips to see you through January

We’ve put together our best money management tips to help you get your finances into shape - a new year does mean a new you after all.

1 - Think ahead

Christmas is a wonderful constant. We know it comes round once a year and this means we can start to plan early and spread the cost throughout the year. You can start with the January sales - search for items that you’ll need next year, such as cards or wrapping paper and even small stocking fillers. Then as the year progresses, set aside money each month for the big day and think about buying non-perishables as early as October.

2 - Find out your credit score

If you’re going to get your financial health up to scratch then you’ll need to start with your credit file. There are plenty of free services around that can help you see your credit score and all the additional information that comes with it. Use this as a starting point and start to make improvements - you could even begin with adding yourself to the electoral roll at your address, as that will have an impact.

3 - Budget for everything

Start the year as you mean to go on and create a household budget. Knowing exactly what’s coming in and going out means that you can begin to clear debts, plan for events through the year and even begin, or add to, your savings pot. This is also a good opportunity to start allocating money for going out during the Christmas period next year - time to start good habits!

We’ve got a really simple guide to budgeting that might come in handy.

4 - Read finance blogs

The tips you can pick up from personal finance experts are invaluable, as they’ve done all the testing and hard work for you. Money Nuggets, Dumbfunded and From Pennies to Pounds are a few of our favourites and have even given us some of their own Christmas finance tips.

5 - Cut back

It sounds simple, but being restrained with your finances can sometimes be quite a challenge. Learn to live within your means and find low-cost alternatives where you would usually spend money. For example, take the kids on a long country walk rather than splashing out on a big day out with bells and whistles, cook together instead of heading to the restaurant and avoid going past a coffee shop if you know you can’t resist their Pumpkin Spiced Latte.

Even though this Christmas is still making its way down the chimney, start thinking about next year and how small changes throughout the year can make it feel extra special, all whilst allowing you to spend time celebrating with friends and family.

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