It’s the most extortionate time of the year: budgeting

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With the festive season kicking off, you may be thinking about Christmas presents for family and friends soon (unless you’re one of those leave it ‘til Christmas Eve types!). Planning ahead and budgeting will not only relieve you of the stress of last-minute shopping amidst the Christmas crowds, it can also help you save money. Here are eight ways to budget during the most wonderful extortionate time of the year…

1. Write a list

Step number one: before purchasing any presents, make sure you write a list of everyone you need to buy something for. Once you have your list, set an amount to spend on each person. This will help you plan out a shopping list and work out exactly how much dollar you’ll need!

2. Be secretive, be Santa

Do you get more messages from your family WhatsApp than any other group chat? Well, if you’re from one of those impossibly large families, then you might want to suggest a Secret Santa gift exchange. That way, everyone only has to buy for one person within an agreed budget. Use a name generator website like DrawNames.co.uk to help you pick names out of a virtual ‘hat’.

3. Make the most of the sales

Now we know how crazy Black Friday and Cyber Monday were/can be in person, but luckily, we can all safely participate in the sales through the wonder of online shopping! Do make the most of any remaining deals while you can, but remember to do your research and have a clear idea of what you’d like to buy before making any sudden purchases. (Psst! Based on last year, some brands are likely to drop their prices even further after the weekend rush.)

4. Swap shifts for gifts

Even just a few shifts as a Christmas temp could help fund some of those gifts you've planned to buy. Many companies advertise seasonal positions at this time of year, so it’s a great way to earn a bit of extra cash (and work experience). Check if your local shops and restaurants are hiring or ask the Careers department at your Student Union if they can recommend some local employers. You never know, it could even lead to permanent part-time job after the festive season is over!

5. Flash your cashback

Check out the cashback deals that your bank offers online. You can sometimes get pretty good deals that basically reward you for spending your own money – sweet! This is a great money saving tactic for all year round but comes in especially handy at Christmas, when you're likely to spend a little extra.

6. Get creative and make your own presents

You don’t have to buy everyone’s present; you could make some truffles for your grandma or frame a photo or an art print for a friend. Making your own gift will add a personal touch whilst also saving you some cash – nice! Check out these DIY ideas.

7. Be savvy with travel

If you haven’t already booked your trip home, do it right now. Doing this ahead of time will help you get the best deal you can and avoid high last-minute fares. If you’re planning on visiting friends and family who live in different areas, try and combine trips so you’re spending as little as you can on travelling.

8. Realise that Christmas isn’t about the money

There’s a lot of pressure at this time of year to buy the most amazing presents ever for your loved ones, but not everyone has the cash for that – a student loan can only stretch so far! Don’t worry if you can’t get everyone on your list what you’d originally hoped, because the most important thing is that you’ll be spending time with people you love at Christmas. That’s surely a better gift than any you could buy, right?

Do you have any tips for Christmas budgeting? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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