Survive the Season with a Lean Holiday Budget

The holiday season represents a year-end opportunity to treat yourself and loved-ones to posh annual rewards. For many UK families, the season includes presents, holiday travel, entertaining, and nights out for special seasonal events. With each outing, festive families bear the financial burden of the season, sometimes spending more money during holiday months than their budgets can handle.

Spending freely during the holiday stretch can lead to months paying down burgeoning credit balances. Annual reports consistently show many Britons carry seasonal debt well into the following year, before wiping balances. Even worse for some brisk spenders, holiday zeal creates problem debt that lingers even longer. If you’re feeling the festive holiday spirit, but would like to avoid financial distress from overspending, try these tips for a manageable holiday budget.

Entertain for Less

There’s no escaping the joy of the holiday season – complete with festive food and drink at every turn. Unfortunately for families watching their spending, each holiday event can test budget resolve. If money’s on your mind, but you’re not ready to give up good times during the season, you may be able to entertain yourself and others, without breaking the bank.

  • Serve Cheaper Versions of Expensive Classics – BBC provides frugal food tips that can help you reduce your entertaining costs. Among them, replacing pricey foods with similar, less expensive fare can dramatically reduce the cost of Christmas dinner, without sacrificing your favourite flavorful traditions. Their goodfood section suggests replacing expensive smoked salmon with a pate made from less expensive smoked fish.
  • DIY – There are loads of readymade foods you can buy, but you’ll pay a premium for table ready canapes and other holiday delights. Rather than paying for other folks’ time preparing your holiday meals, try recruiting help from family members, making your own menu items. Even your youngest helpers can contribute, spreading, wrapping, saucing, and arranging homemade foods for your table. Controlling your holiday menu allows for economical substitutions and other cost-effective moves at the market, too, so DIY entertainers save again and again.
  • Cook From Your Cupboards – As you plan holiday meals, don’t overlook the food you have on hand. Your cupboards may provide the inspiration for your next great dish, and you’ll soften the blow of holiday food spending by using what’s already paid for.

Travel for Less

Winter holiday is an expensive tradition for UK travelers, adding to seasonal spending demands. If you’re heading abroad this year, don’t let the price of holiday slow you down; use these tips to save cash while traveling.

  • Account for Flight Delays – Your rights as a passenger on an EU airline include financial protection. Under the terms of Denied Boarding Regulation, your airline is responsible for costs caused by flight delays and cancellations. You must be ticketed with an EU airline or traveling in the EU to be eligible. And you must check-in at the airport with plenty of time before your schedule departure time. If you meet these criteria and your flight is delayed, you may qualify for compensation.
  • Preparing a flight delay compensation claim online is the easiest way to start the process. Once approved, your claim reimburses expenses such as meals, communication costs, ground transfer, and even overnight accommodation, when airline errors disrupt your travel itinerary.

  • Learn From Locals – No one knows the landscape as well as locals, so taking cues from area residents can lead to authentic, affordable experiences. Rather than falling into tourist traps, try dining at popular local restaurants, where food is priced for the neighborhood, not for the resort crowd. And if you’re adventurous and flexible, consider staying at a private residence, where locals accommodate casual travelers.
  • Stick to a Cash Budget – Open-ended holiday spending can leave you with a severe financial hangover in the new year. To avoid over-stepping your budget, outline cash spending limits for key phases of your trip. The move not only keeps spending low, but establishing limits also helps you prioritise activities on holiday.

Despite your commitment to control holiday spending, seasonal demands can disrupt your financial flow. Before dropping more money than your budget allows, use these tips to dial-back holiday spending to a level you can afford.

Paul graduated in 2001 with a degree in Finance. Since then he has gone on to work for several of the UK's most well-known financial institutions.

An avid blogger and a huge football fan, Paul is here to guide you through the ins and outs of personal finance and perhaps save you some money in the process!

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