By Ann Francis

Cambrian Credit Union

We may have had a few lovely days of sunshine, but with the tubs of Roses on special offer in the supermarkets and Strictly Come Dancing back it’s fair to say the countdown to Christmas is on.

As a grandparent, I absolutely love Christmas! The time with family, food, and get-togethers, and of course the children’s faces when they open Santa’s presents, is magical. It can also become one of the toughest times of the year for those of us on a budget.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), families spent an average of more than £900 on presents, food, decorations and going out during the 2022 festive period, and with inflation we can expect that to rise in 2023.

Saving well in advance is the sensible way to get financially prepared but with just a couple of months left, time is not on our side this year, but with some planning there is still time to enjoy Christmas without a financial hangover in the New Year:

Here are my top tips to save Christmas:

1. Budget: Set the amount you can realistically afford and stick to it. Prioritise what makes Christmas special by writing a list of essentials. Once you have your priorities and your total budget, decide what you will spend money on and how much for each part, for example food, family members etc.

2. Sell: Are there any gifts you received last Christmas that you’ve never used, or maybe children’s toys, clothes and books they’ve grown out of? Selling unwanted items can be a real budget booster.

3. Compare prices: Don’t buy your item until you compare a number of retailers. This has never been easier thanks to online shopping.

4. Be honest: Don’t be afraid to tell loved ones if money is tight. You could suggest a family price limit on gifts, a Secret Santa or invest your time with your loved ones, which in this day and age is worth more than any gift. If you have children, don’t be afraid to bring them into the Christmas budgeting process. It helps teach them the value of money, which is a very important lesson to learn, and may even save you from ‘pester power’.

5. Cash in your points: Why have a Boots Advantage/Tesco Clubcard/Sainsbury's Nectar if you never claim the points you save? If yours are loaded up, it’s a good time to use them into Christmas presents.

At Cambrian Credit Union we offer the Engage account, which comes with a pre-paid debit card, to help with budgeting. Best of all, the Engage card comes with cash-back or discounts on everyday purchases such as your weekly food shopping bill as well as big name retailers like Argos, Asda and Marks and Spencer. You will find more details on our website