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How to make a Christmas Budget

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When you want to have the perfect traditional Christmas its all too easy to let your spending run away with you and end up paying for it through out the year. To prevent this happening, make a budget - and stick to it!
What you'll need: 
Notepad and pen
Computer with internet access (optional)
The most important thing is to know exactly how much you have to spend. If you have been saving up for Christmas and have an amount put by, then you will know how much you have. If you don't have that, you will need to work out how much you can spare away from regular bills between now and Christmas.
Write a list of everything you think you will need and price it up. If you are exceeding your budget, look at ways you can bring the cost down.
Food. If you are having the family round this Christmas, work out a menu and what you need to get in that is additional to your normal spend. Consider asking people who are coming to bring a part of the meal or snacks. People are very often delighted to help out.
Homemade Food. Making your own mince pies, cakes and biscuits. These can be much more delicious and much cheaper than shop bought.
Decorations: Take a look at the Christmas decorations you already have. If you don't have much spare money, you can probably get away with not spending much. Or why not try making some?
Presents: Be realistic. Make a list of all the people you buy presents for. Decide how much you can spend on each. If it is £5, then stick to £5. It can be an interesting challenge to find good gifts for not much money. Use the computer to find items at the best price. Or make up a hamper with low cost treats.
Present alternatives: Promise to do something for a friend or relative instead of a gift such as mow the lawn, wash the car, give them a lift somewhere. Sometimes these gifts are far more valued as you give something very precious - your time.
Other costs: Don't forget to think of other costs of Christmas such as travel to see friends or relatives, meals out, drinks with friends and a new party outfit. Book train or coach trips as far in advance as you can. List how many card you will post, or why not send an email instead?
Once you have made your budget, stick to it. There will be temptation to spend more on presents and on going out. Be honest with people and say you don't have the funds and suggest alternatives eg getting together at someone's house instead of going out.
The best memories of Christmas are not the presents, decorations or food but of the time you shared with people you care about - make that your priority and everything else will fall into place.
This Christmas make a budget, and stick to it and then in January begin a savings pot for next Christmas. After all, if you have been careful with your money this Christmas, you can afford it!
Begin work on your budget as early in the year as possible.
Remember it is the thought that counts, not how much you spend.
Agree a maximum spend on presents with your friends and family.
You will have a much nicer time if you are not worrying about money.
Go to the shops with the amount of cash you need, leave the credit cards at home.
There will always be something to tempt you, learn to say 'No'


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