Stocking up Christmas funds

The chill of the autumn is only just setting in, but many people are already turning their thoughts to Christmas — mainly, how they’re going to pay for it.

In fact, in a new survey by VoucherCodes.co.uk, some 33% of the 2,000 people questioned said that they’ve already started their Christmas shopping in a bid to avoid financial stress, with 17% kicking off off their sprees by the end of September, a further one in seven (13%) planning on making some headway this month, and a further 16% (mostly women, perhaps unsurprisingly) saying they’d been at it even earlier, buying gifts throughout the whole of 2014.

One in 10 canny — or cheeky, depending on your point of view — people even admitted planning to give a loved one a gift they bagged as a bargain in last year’s sales.

Taking it to that level may seem extreme, but it’s actually very sensible. According to some separate research carried out by Halifax, the average amount people spent on Christmas last year was £482 — if you wanted to save that sum again, and you hadn’t already started putting money away for Christmas, you’d need to put away around £160 a month from now until December 24.

Of course, for many people, this rate of saving is impossible, meaning that they will resort to borrowing the cash instead, storing up financial problems for next year.

Indeed, the VoucherCodes research revealed nearly one fifth (19%) of people gave the gloomy prediction that the debt they will carry with them from this coming Christmas will be their main cause for financial concern in 2015.

Around 21% predict they will be relying on credit to cover the cost of gifts, presents and trips out to celebrate with friends. Some 17% predict they’ll be piling money on the plastic this Christmas by using their credit card, and 8% are planning to turn to a personal loan or to dip into their overdraft to see themselves through the festive holiday.

Claire Davenport, managing director at VoucherCodes, says the impact of the financial downturn has led many of us to shift our mindsets about the way we shop, with more of us planning ahead in order to avoid the “monster financial hangover traditionally associated with January”.

So if you haven’t started your Christmas financial planning already, now could be the perfect opportunity to start getting organised, rather than facing that last-minute dash on Christmas Eve.

Davenport suggests making the most of money saving opportunities by signing up to receive stores’ newsletters so you can grab offers as they come up as the Christmas battle for shoppers’ business starts hotting up.

She says: “Now’s the time to start making lists of everything you’ll need, from decorations to dinner so you can stock up as deals and offers go live.”