Christmas is coming, spirits are rising and after a tough financial year for most Irish people, I would like to share some of my best Christmas financial tips to help you.

Christmas Budget Sheet*

A great tool I ask my clients to use is a Christmas Budget Sheet because a little planning can make a huge difference. If parents would like a copy then send me an email, I will forward it on free of charge. Parents can fill in the sheet (present, groceries, night out, etc.), then put a cost to each item. The spread sheet will add it up automatically and you must then add 10% to the original figure to build in a bit of cushion for items you never have even thought of.

Cash is king

When it comes to Christmas shopping nothing focusses the mind better than paying for everything in cash. It is the easiest way to manage your money and it makes it much more difficult for you to overspend. The reason for this is that when paying for items with cash its value is easily recognised. If you don’t like having too much cash in your pocket you can always use a debit card for the larger spend items.

Say NO to Credit Cards

Credit card companies make the bulk of their profits over the Christmas period. They are banking on people purchasing items they can’t afford and are unable to pay the full balance of their bill in January. The average charge on credit cards is around 18% interest on the balance. It becomes a vicious circle because as each month goes on, you end up paying interest on top of interest and that bargain you put on the card ends up being a very expensive luxury! PLEASE, LEAVE THE CREDIT CARD AT HOME AND STICK TO A DEBIT CARD OR CASH.

Use the internet

Each year Irish people are spending more online. It is a great tool for parents who can be stuck for time or find the whole shopping experience stressful.  It is amazing how easy it is to research any purchases you intend to buy. The internet has opened up a whole new market were you can compare products against each other and get feedback.

If you have a present in mind, look it up online before you search for it in your local shopping centre. Try compare like for like and don’t forget the delivery charges if purchasing online.  If you leave it all till the last few days then expect to pay more for your shopping. So, start to shop early and look out for some bargains, discounts and promotional offers.

Be considerate of others

If you are feeling the pinch in purchasing presents for you friends and family then why not suggest a spending limit. Family members are much happier when someone takes control and sets out how much everyone needs to spend on each other. This can reduce the financial pressures on you but also on your family as they too might have to tighten their belts this Christmas. Another option might be to group together and purchase one special present for each family member rather than a number of smaller items.

Once you implement a few of my tips you can get on with enjoying the festivities.

If your New Year’s Resolution is to create a Brighter Financial Future for your Son / Daughter with special needs then contact me by emailing or call 021 482 3635 / 086 335 3013.

Wishing you and your family a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

*Allan Matthew Cuthbert t/a Financial Wellbeing is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland to advice on Mortgage,Savings, Life and Pension products