If it seems like the run-up to Christmas starts earlier every year, then there’s a reason for that. Every year, the average price of a family Christmas goes up – meaning you need to start getting your baubles in a row a little earlier. Getting the festive season planned out is important, and a lot of British households get it wrong either by starting too late or by aiming too high. The only perfect Christmas break is one you can afford – and that takes preparation.

The trick to it is simple enough. Figure out what you can manage to spend, and then work from there. It’s all too easy to get that backwards, by imagining the Christmas you want and then hurling money at it until it magically appears. That’s a sure-fire shortcut to financial humbug. Also, starting your saving in the months leading up to the holiday is a lot less painful that trying to scramble all the cash together in December.

Buying Presents

Let’s talk about the presents first. Most people seem to overstress the importance of finding the perfect gifts for their loved ones. The thing is – can you even remember what you got from your nearest and dearest last year? Chances are, what you’ll remember most about Christmas 2018 are the people you were with. Presents are great, but they’re probably the least important thing on everyone’s minds come Boxing Day.

Speaking of which, if you’re looking for ways to make your seasonal ends meet this year, consider digging out some of the well-intentioned but ultimately useless junk you received last time. With most of it, you probably haven’t even opened the box yet, and eBay’s only a click away…

Christmas Dinner

It’s worth not being too high and mighty when you’re planning out your Christmas dinner, too. It turns out that most people really can’t tell if they’re eating a high-priced “premium” turkey or a more affordable alternative.

The same goes for pretty much anything on your Christmas dinner table, right up to the wine you’re drinking. This is where another advantage of planning early comes in. Clear out a corner of your cupboard in the run-up to Christmas and make a list of what you’ll need to fill it.

As the weeks and months tick by, keep an eye out for unmissable deals on anything on that list. By the time you’re warming up the oven on Christmas morning, you could have saved a serious chunk of change compared to buying everything at once.

Putting Christmas on Credit

If at all possible, don’t dump your whole Christmas on your existing credit card at umpteen percent. Obviously, you’ll be in better overall shape if you don’t borrow at all for your festive funding. If you have to, though, go for a 0% interest option.

Search around online to find the best offers. Sainsbury’s Bank, for instance, is offering 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for up to 25 months right now. The deals on offer vary over time, so hunt around a bit before committing yourself.

Cover the Cost of Christmas with a Tax Refund

Probably most important of all, don’t forget to claim your tax refund from HMRC. With an average 1-year refund claimed through RIFT stacking up to £893, it could be more than enough to handle your Christmas outlay on its own.

Remember, even if you’ve never claimed before, it still might not be too late to get back what you’re owed from previous years. You can claim back your overpaid tax for up to 4 years, with an average HMRC payout of around £2,500 in total.

Money is the last thing you want to worry about over Christmas – but if you don’t plan your spending it could well be the first thing you worry about in the New Year. Talk to RIFT about getting back what you’re owed. We’ve claimed over £225 million back from the taxman for our customers so far, so you know you’re always better off with RIFT.

Check if you're due a tax refund now and we'll see if we can get your cash in time for Christmas.