With less than four weeks until Christmas, if you’re thinking of taking out a new credit card to help ease the festive financial burden, you’ll need to get your skates on.
We’re not advocating that you should go on a shopping binge and then worry about paying for it later, but if as for many families funds are tight this year, it makes sense to find a cost effective way to spread the cost over two to three months.
Balancing the household budget doesn’t get any easier with energy and food costs soaring while pay increases, if you’re lucky enough to get one, are barely keeping pace with inflation.
If your credit rating is in good shape then you may want to think about using a new credit card offering interest free credit on purchases to help you manage the Christmas expense.
If this is something you think will work for you then you need to get your card application completed in the next few days as it will be between 7 to 10 days before your account is opened and the plastic is in your hands ready to use.
The question is which credit card to sign up for? There are dozens of cards offering interest free purchases, some in the case of Halifax for as long as 20 months.
In reality the last thing you want to be doing is still paying off your Christmas borrowing come summer 2015, but choosing a card that gives you something back for your short term spending may be worth a look.
The Tesco Clubcard offers 19 months at zero per cent on purchases and Sainsbury’s Bank the same for 18 months, but both also offer reward points, so well worth considering if you do your weekly food shop in one of these supermarkets.
Other cards offering a combination of interest free purchases and rewards are M&S Bank (19 months), John Lewis Partnership Card (6 months) and Santander 123 (18 months) although the latter does come with a £24 annual fee.
If the thought of spreading the cost of Christmas doesn’t appeal to you, then it may be worth looking at a few ideas to try to keep your costs down this year.
One tried and tested money saving tip is to try and cut back on your food shopping during the first couple of weeks in December, by using up what you already have and only buying the absolute essentials.
Another way to keep the cost down is to agree with friends and relatives that you’re going to cut down on presents this year – either by imposing a limit on the amount you’ll spend or perhaps agreeing to only buy for the children.
Alternatively rather than spending money on presents, you could design and send your own practical vouchers where you offer to give up your time to baby sit, provide a taxi service, clean the car or even walk the dog. It will cost you nothing but your time and a little creativeness.
If you can’t afford it, don’t buy on the basis that you don’t want to lose face or are trying to keep up with the Jones’s.
Christmas is not about expensive presents, it’s a rare opportunity to relax and spend some quality time with your friends and family, so have a good time but don’t get into long term debt over it – it’s really not worth it.