Your Guide to Mindful Spending at Christmas

by | Nov 25, 2021 | Articles, Budgeting, Wellbeing

By Clare Seal

Welcome to mayhem. Does your breath run a little faster at this time of year? Do you feel extra vulnerable to manipulative marketing, and does keeping money in your account just seem impossible? It always feels a shame to me that, for so many, what should be a joyful time of year has become a perfect storm of stress, overspending, and long-lasting consequences – and for a very long time, I was caught up in the whirlwind, too. 

It’s so easy to lose control of your spending around Christmas, with pressure building all around you and your inbox filling with ‘unmissable’ deals. Please remember that no deal is unmissable – and in fact, a high percentage of Black Friday offers aren’t even the cheapest you’ll find that product throughout the year. We know that a little shopping is inevitable at this time of year, so here are a few pointers for spending more mindfully this season:

Make a list, and stick to it

Take a little time to research what each person on your nice list would like, decide a budget and then make sure you don’t get too carried away. A great way to do this is to include a ‘why’ column in your gift list – if you can’t think of a good reason why you’re buying it, maybe it shouldn’t be on the list. You can download a free printable Christmas list, complete with the ‘why’ column, here.

Separate out your Christmas spending

It can be really difficult to see exactly how much you’re spending on Christmas bits and pieces when it’s in amongst all of your normal day-to-day expenses, like travel and food. With the smart app Snoop, you can create a custom category to tag all of your Christmas spending, showing you the true cost of Christmas and helping you to understand your habits better. It’s also great for finding the best deals at the places where you tend to shop, anyway, and giving you little nudges when you need them most. 

Remember this: you do not have to spend the same on everyone 

Even your children. If one of your children wants a games console, while the other wants a cuddly Pikachu, you don’t have to make up the shortfall in cash, because they are each getting exactly what they want – if you’re worried about fairness, you could stash the extra in a junior ISA or put it towards a day out in the future. 

And if you manage to save some money on a purchase, especially over this weekend, put it aside rather than using it for ‘filler’ presents that don’t mean anything.

Check for cashback

When shopping, always check if you can get cashback – it really adds up. Download the TopCashback App here to claim £15 cashback when you spend £15 or more at loads of retailers, from John Lewis to eBay. If you were going to buy the thing anyway, you might as well get some cashback to save or top up your Christmas fund – but only if you were going to buy it anyway. Searching for cashback can also give you that all-important time you need to properly consider your purchase, so it’s a win-win.

Keep using your mindful spending techniques

Use all of the usual techniques that work for mindful spending – don’t shop late at night, or when you’re feeling anxious or low, sleep on any purchases above a certain price and stop if you feel overwhelmed. If you’re feeling harassed into buying something by all of the promos and abandoned cart emails, just unsubscribe. You are the one in control.

Make a plan for Jan

If you’re using savings or credit to fund your Christmas, that’s absolutely fine, but take a moment to plan out how you’re going to stay on course when the calendar ticks over into 2022. You could download the ilumoni app to stay on top of your borrowing or get the Chip app to help you to build up your depleted savings. 

This can be a stressful time of year, money-wise, but it really doesn’t have to be. You are in the driving seat – just don’t let any number of offers, discounts, or ‘unmissable’ deals take the wheel.