If you want to save money this Christmas then now is the time to get organised...
After all, what with pre-holiday socialising, decorating, eating and outfit-shopping, it's easy to run out of money before you even start thinking about buying gifts.
Yes, it can be overwhelming – but with a bit of careful planning and some clever tips, you can have a happy Christmas on a budget. We've rounded up a whole Santa's sack full of brilliant tips to help you save money this festive season on your Christmas present shopping.
1. Book any travel as soon as possible
Paying for a train or plane ticket this Christmas? Even if you're only travelling a couple of hours across the UK, prices can be eye-wateringly expensive.
You're sure to pay the price for booking anything in December, so try and get in there early – aim to plan travel around two months ahead.
2. Start early
Whether it's jotting down gift ideas months ahead or buying the perfect pressie for mum weeks before the big day, it's never too early to start thinking about Christmas.
The sooner you start, the more time you have to spread the cost, rather than paying for it all at once in December (or repaying it all in January). Make a list and figure out who you need to shop for and what they'd like, then look out for offers in the months before the big day. Stick to your list to avoid overspending.
3. don't go overboard with food
Anyone who's hosted Christmas will be familiar with the act of panic-buying food that ends up going to waste. Buy food items that can be frozen where possible, so you're not left with a fridge full of festive food when the January diets kick off. Food waste is, quite literally, money in the bin.
3. Set a budget
Figure out how much you can spend on Christmas shopping this year and then stick to it. The easiest way to stay within your budget is to be organised. Start by working out what your current financial situation is. Whether you like using pen and paper, or prefer an app, like Money Dashboard, you need to be honest about your spending and budget, right down to the change in your pocket.
The Budget Planner at moneyadviceservice.org.uk is great as it breaks down your finances into graphs to help show your overspending.
Which leads us to our next tip...
4. Take charge of your spending habits
If you struggle to stick to a budget, try using a banking app like Monzo. It's connected to a card which can be topped up easily via the app. You can pop £100 or so on your card every fortnight to be your 'spending money' - to buy that dress you want or gift you need to get - and track your spending as you go.
5. Save don't splurge
Rather than popping your cash into a savings account with a low interest rate, why not pick up an Asda Christmas Savings Card from the checkout to help you prep for next Christmas? Then, every time you shop in-store throughout the year, you can top it up - perhaps just by rounding up your shopping bill. It's surprising how easily little amounts all add up.
6. Make a list - and check it twice
The best way to manage your holiday shopping budget is to break it down. Write down everyone who you plan on buying a gift for - even if it's just a box of sweets for your children's teacher. Next to everyone's name on your list, jot down the maximum amount that you'd like to spend so you can work out your budgets and whether they're feasible.
7. Gift homespun goodies
Show friends and family how much you care with a homemade present. Who wouldn't love to receive a homemade batch of brownies, a bag of cantuccini or a beautifully labelled bottle of clemencello? After all, it's the thought that counts!