If you want to save money this Christmas then now is the time to get organised.
When it comes to the holidays, costs can quickly add up. There's all those pre-Christmas parties to attend, plus decorating the home, finding new outfits for the festive season, buying food for Christmas lunch and then, of course, shopping for presents.
It may sound 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. 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.
2. 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...
3. 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. So you could pop £100 or so on there as your 'spending money', to buy that dress you want or gift you need to get, and track your spending as you go.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Do it yourself
Show friends and family how much you care with a thoughtful, homemade present. Whether it's a box of homemade chocolate truffles or a knitted woolly jumper, there are plenty of DIY gifts that your loved ones will adore.