Every year, the UK blows through literally hundreds of millions of pounds buying unwanted presents for ungrateful friends and family. It’s incredible. There’s a war of escalation going on over the festive season and far too many of us are putting our finances in the line of fire.

It’s understandable, of course. It’s only natural to want to push the boat out a bit for our mates and loved ones at Christmas. The thing is, we’re not just stretching our own festive finances. We’re probably not doing our nearest and dearest any favours, either. About half of us admit to struggling hard to come up with just the right gifts, and we’re spending an astonishing amount of cash on getting it wrong. So, before you start crossing off those Christmas lists this year, why not try a couple of quick RIFT tips for keeping your holiday spending under control.

Ditch the festive fantasies

It might be the season of miracles, but it pays to keep your Christmas plans realistic. Most people’s budgets go up in smoke when they start to hear the reindeer on the rooftops, but don’t get carried away. Work out in advance what you can afford, then start your planning with that figure as your guide.

When you’re buying gifts for others, remember that a cheaper, well picked present will always be more welcome than an expensive piece of unneeded tat. We’re not suggesting you load up on “thoughtful” socks and bath products. Just try to keep in mind what people actually like or want, rather than what’s currently trendy.

One-size-fits-all doesn’t apply to presents, or to budgets

As long as we’re being realistic here, remember to make sure everyone’s expectations are grounded. Never feel too embarrassed to talk to your friends about money, and to set a limit for the gifts you’re giving each other.

We’re a nation that’d rather eat sprouts than discuss our finances, but a little awkward honesty now can avoid some serious financial hardship later on. You might be surprised to find that your friends would actually prefer you to spend your time on them, instead of your money.

Think – and buy – ahead

It’s easy to get carried away in the run-up to Christmas, but not all those “unmissable” Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are all they’re cracked up to be. Face it – no one actually needs a PlayStation 5 this year. That’s particularly true when it’s only possible to get one for £800+ from an unscrupulous scalper on an online auction site.

In general, you’re far better off making your Christmas lists much earlier in the year, and snagging the real bargains as they crop up with the passing months. A little late to be telling you this now, you say? Not at all! With the New Year sales already on the horizon, this is the perfect time to start plotting out your 2021 Christmas spending.

The only thought that really counts...

It’s important to understand that people get pressured into bad money decisions at Christmas. Make sure you’re not adding to someone else’s burden. If you sense that a mate or family member is struggling, it’s probably not the time to make an extravagant gesture that they’ll feel obliged to respond match. It’s not just your own finances you’ll be protecting – and that’s probably the most thoughtful gift you could offer.

With so many of us hurling ourselves into debt each Christmas, keep in mind that a tax refund will always be a better way to cover your festive costs than a loan or credit card. That’s as true for your mates as it is for you, so why not use RIFT’s Refer a Friend scheme? You could earn cash rewards every time someone you refer claims a tax refund with us. More importantly, though, you could be massively lightening someone’s load at a financially critical time. You could also snag some extra cash bonuses in our prize draw entries as well the warm glow of helping your mates claim a much needed tax refund.

If you've not made a claim yet yourself then find out now if you're owed money from HMRC. We can get your claim started start away and you can relax knowing you've got the money to cover Christmas.