How to spend less this Christmas without losing the joy


he new musical Christmas comedy, starring Ryan Reynolds as the modern day Ebenezer Scrooge, is the latest film adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas song.

The story has become a celebratory reminder: nobody wants to be seen as a miserable miser at Christmas, even if they’re preoccupied with how much electricity their string of lights will cost them in January.

It’s tempting to nurture our inner Scrooge this Christmas.

Research from credit unions shows that rampant inflation – reflected in our galloping energy and food bills – will shave an average of €3,000 from our purchasing power this year.

No wonder six out of ten people say they will have less money to spend this festive season.

Colette Devey, Consumer Products and Retail Lead at EY Ireland, says: “Consumers are likely to spend less on gifts overall this year.”

But there are ways to make sure Christmas 2022 doesn’t break the bank and cause a financial New Year’s hangover — without being labeled a scrooge. Here’s how:

1 Write a list

Imitate Santa Claus and write down the people you want to give presents to.

Agree on gift spending limits with family and friends, then set a cap for each person on your list. If your budget doesn’t make it on your list, see where you can cut it. After you make a purchase, note the cost in the Notes app on your phone.

2 Set a budget

Calculate how much Christmas will cost you this year. Set a budget for how much you’ll spend on nights out with friends (remember, restaurant, bar, and taxi prices have gone up), day trips with kids, cards, stamps, and wrapping paper, and extra groceries.

3 Avoid debt

Unlike Santa Claus, you don’t have to be in the red at Christmas. Your family and friends know that the rising cost of living means less money is available and would prefer you not to go into debt to pay for their gifts.

Money coach Kel Galavan, who documented on her Instagram account @mrssmartmoneyhq how her family saved €27,000 during a “no spend year” to help crush debt, said: “I’m spending a lot of time this year giving people permission to not doing it will blow the credit card.”

No wonder six out of ten people say they will have less money to spend this festive season

If you have no choice but to get into debt, do so in a planned manner by taking out a loan from your credit union or bank, rather than spontaneously grabbing a credit card or Buy It Now (BNPL) app at a store.

If you don’t have the money to pay off your credit card bill in full in the new year, you’ll pay an annual percentage rate (APR) of between 13.8 and 26.6 percent, depending on the lender.

4 Start a new tradition

If Kris Kindle isn’t a tradition in your family, be the one brave enough to suggest starting this year. Chances are they’ll be grateful — according to a PayPal survey, about 54 percent of adults want to buy a Kris Kindle this year because it’s less expensive.

And by choosing one family member to buy a decent gift for, rather than buying small gifts for everyone, the recipient is more likely to receive a higher-quality gift.


It’s important to explain to children that even Santa Claus has limitations. Image from a photo agency

5 Manage expectations of Santa Claus

Explaining financial hardship to children – especially younger children – is difficult, but there are ways around it.

“Once they get their mind on something, say, ‘Santa’s a busy guy, so give him a list of three or five things you like,’ and then go get whatever’s within your budget is,” says Galavan.

6 Make your own decorations

Avoid buying new decorations and make new ones instead.

“You can spice up your existing decorations with holly and ivy,” says Galavan.

“You can make a beautiful wreath out of it or a mantelpiece decoration.

“Oven dry oranges and add to these decorations. Center piece and piece above mantel with wire. If you have kids, pick pine cones and spray paint them.”

7 Don’t let off steam in Santa’s grotto

Some Santa Claus trips can cost anywhere from €80 to €170 for two adults and two children, and that excludes the cost of photos, fuel for the car and a bite to eat.

“It’s nice for younger kids, but when they get a little older, do something else that’s free instead,” says Galavan.

“My mum is taking us all to a garden center this year where there will be lights and we’ll order a fancy hot chocolate and eat before we leave. Or you go to a Christmas market and let them choose something small to buy.

“I also love driving the kids around with a thermos of hot chocolate and getting them to pick the house with the best Christmas lights.”

8 Choose shared experiences over gifts

Instead of your extended family exchanging gifts, agree to go out to an early bird dinner or host a pot luck dinner at someone’s home, where everyone brings a dish they made themselves.

9 New gifts

When you’ve received enough scented candles to keep your home smelling good by 2026 or a business basket, don’t be afraid to pass on items you don’t use that someone else might enjoy.

Be sure to write down who gave you the gift in the first place to avoid awkward moments!

If you’re shopping for extended family gifts and don’t see them until the days after St. Stephen’s Day, don’t be afraid to buy them when stores reopen to take advantage of huge discounts on their stock.

10 Don’t overdo it with food

Think about what your family and guests really like to eat and drink this Christmas and shop accordingly, advises financial advisor John Lowe.

“Is anyone in your house Christmas cake, Christmas pudding or mince pies?” he says. “Do they drink sherry or do you buy it ‘just in case’?”

Also, don’t overdo it stocking up on wine to give an unexpected gift to anyone who comes by. You can always buy more – the supermarkets are only closed for one day.


If you start saving now, or grab something from the sales, you could save a fortune before next Christmas. Image from a photo agency

How to financially prepare for Christmas 2023

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the expense of this festive season with the constant commercials on radio, television and social media whipping out “ideal” Christmas gifts, make a vow now to be financially prepared for Christmas 2023.

The New Year – only four weeks away – is the opportune time to add up the total amount you’ve spent over Christmas and create a savings plan that will tame expenses for Christmas 2023 and ensure you don’t end up with a debt headache every time wake up january.

For example, if you spent €1,000 on Christmas this year, you need to save that amount before you start shopping in November 2023. Set up a checking account with your online bank (but don’t expect to make much). interest) or open a vault in your Revolut account and make sure that €100 per month is automatically transferred from your main account to your savings pot.
Committing to savings can be difficult when you’re just keeping up with heating and electricity bills – almost half of Irish households are currently struggling to make ends meet, according to the Central Statistics Office. But if you start saving for Christmas in January, you’ll sleep better next year.

If you have any cash left over from Christmas,’s John Lowe advises going shopping when the sale starts to stock up on items you’ll need in 2023.
“Gift wrap, Christmas cards, tree skirts and paper Advent calendars all go on sale a few days after Christmas Day, so get in the habit of buying them by the 90 and saving them for next year,” says Lowe. How to spend less this Christmas without losing the joy

Fry Electronics Team

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