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For many of us, Christmas is the most expensive time of the year. It is the one time where we decide it is ok to put diets, exercise, budget restrictions and energy saving to one side, as we over-indulge in almost every area of our life to enjoy ourselves. It is little wonder then, that many of us are left with significant savings to make, or even debts to pay off, when the new year comes around. In order to finance Christmas, many of us will use a payday loan company, who give us almost instant cash to be re-paid at a later time. We defer the thought of high-interest costs until a time where we leave the Christmas period and normal life resumes. However, with a bit of research and planning, cheaper alternatives are available. Here is our advice on how Christmas can be fun and affordable whilst avoiding the long-term financial headache.

Small loans

Many people agree to payday loans based on a reaction to an advertisement. However, they fail to consider the longer-term cost of interest and late payment charges which can increase the payment amount extortionately. If you need cash urgently, a better form of borrowing is a small loan which can be paid back at a lower rate of interest.

Your bank

It is always worth checking with your bank, to see if they can offer you a loan or, if necessary, extend your overdraft. This enables you to keep your loan amounts in one central location, so that you can keep a closer eye on your financial position. Your bank is a reputable source of finance, and your credit rating is unlikely to be negatively affected like it would be with other types of loan (e.g. payday loans).

Friends / Family

It can sometimes feel awkward asking a family member for a loan (especially if this is to fund the purchase of a present for them!) However, family members are the perfect source of finance on paper, as they are unlikely to charge you interest, and more likely to understand your financial predicament. If you are unwilling to ask a friend or family member for financial help, by talking openly and honestly with them, you might agree to spend less on presents and other costs over the festive period. By doing so, you might provide them with help on their financial position?

Budget

Although you might feel it is too late to budget for Christmas, working out what you currently earn against what your predicted expenditure is, enables you to spend accordingly. Put together a spreadsheet, or hand-write a budget, and you could identify areas to improve on your spending. Who knows, you might even be able to spend more on presents than you anticipated? It is also worth considering where you can save money on other Christmas expenses such as food shopping. Let your budget guide you when deciding what you can and cannot afford. Being thrifty now could mean that you can afford to buy additional gifts or food when Christmas gets closer.

Sales

Nowadays, retailers advertise sales throughout the year, be it black Friday, January sales, or online discounts. Rather than paying extortionate amounts for gifts before Christmas, why not treat someone to a shopping day in the January sales? They can then buy more, cheaper items (ultimately meaning a better present) whilst you spend some quality time together.

Credit cards

Rather than obtaining a payday loan, credit cards are often a better, cheaper source of finance. When you pay the debt back on a credit card, your credit rating improves, especially if you can pay it off sooner than it is due, and you pay more than the minimum requirement. Additionally, the overall rate of interest you pay back is cheaper. As new credit card deals are offered regularly, it might even be time for you to consider switching your credit card balance to an offer giving you a lower rate of interest (some companies offer 0% interest on cards).

Limit spending and shop around

Although it can be very tempting to spend large amounts of money on presents for family and friends, it is important to spend within your means to prevent future problems. Before placing an expensive item in your shopping basket, consider alternatives or even an alternative supplier. Many goods can be purchased more cheaply online than in store. If you are used to shopping for food at an expensive supermarket, consider changing to a cheaper alternative and you might be surprised to realise how much you could be saving throughout the year.

Create your own presents and accessories

Do you have a creative talent that you have been hiding? Why not use it to create your own presents? Your loved ones might appreciate a gift that you have personally created more than a purchased one. If you feel that your creative talents are questionable, you could limit your creative output to a Christmas card or a gift-tag instead. This could also be extended to the kitchen. Rather than paying for sausage rolls and sandwiches, could you make your own? By purchasing a wine-making kit, you could also create your own bottles of alcohol to be given away as presents, or consumed over the festive period.

Although payday loans can be a suitable source of funding when emergency cash is required, it is not advisable to use them to fund expenditure over Christmas. Due to the high rates of interest and additional fees applicable for payments that default, an enjoyable Christmas can soon be forgotten when you receive a letter stating that a large repayment is due.

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