The holiday season can really get to you - how could it not? Christmas decorations, lights, familiar, cozy mixtapes playing Frank Sinatra’s Let It Snow or Wham’s Last Christmas everywhere really puts you in a festive mood. Add good old marathon of Home Alone movies, presents and gingerbread candies surrounded by your family and friends and you’ll get one of the most exciting periods of the year. It’s true, Christmas is the time for magic, reflection, and wonders to billions of people.

In the midst of all the craze, Christmas is also the most awaited time for businessmen and salespeople. The sales skyrocket, magical offers and discounts float in the air, making it easy to forget your economic goals. At least one in eight Britons suffers from a financial hangover in January due to overspending during the holidays. But we can’t blame businesses and services for manufacturing terrific experiences, can we? Let's be fair here: it’s up to us to control our spending.

Here are five clear-headed ways to avoid Christmas financial hangover and get your finances ready for the holidays.

Plan your budget

Every year the onslaught of Christmas comes earlier. While it could be annoying for some, it’s also a great reminder to start planning early.

Planning a personal budget appears to be more complicated than it is. Many people see it as a strict way to cut your expenses while in reality, it's more about making mindful purchases. It does require discipline and control.

Even if you make a sound plan, the most crucial part is abiding by it. Nonetheless, sticking to your budget on Christmas is an extra tough nut to crack. It the most active time for sellers, and unfortunately for your wallet, they are very good at what they do. Just look at all the Christmas lights, offers, decorations and service. They make it feel like a celebration, play with your senses and manipulate you into making quick decisions that lead to impulsive buying and eventually, overspending. That’s why you should be aware of it and set a budget.

If budgeting is new for you, don’t worry, we got you covered. You can start with a simple, but effective 50-20-30 rule:

  • 50% of your income should be set for living expenses. It includes rent, utilities, groceries
  • 20% of your income should be allocated for your financial objectives, such as investments, savings and credit payments (if you have any debts)
  • 30% of your money should be left for flexible spending, like traveling, leisure or Christmas.

The rule is as simple as it gets. Start by identifying your monthly income and allocate it to these percentages. Keep in mind that the numbers you get are the maximum amount you can spend per category. If they do not entirely fit your lifestyle, feel free to tweak them subtly. If there is some spare money left, try to add them to the 20% category. Once you start with it, it’s too easy to fall victim to so-called “licensing effect”. It manifests when people save more money than they expected. As a result, they give themselves an unconscious permission to splash the surplus cash left and right, thus making a lot of unreasonable purchases. Just being aware of it helps.

If you find it difficult to calculate and keep track of your spending you can also make use of budgeting apps, such as You Need A Budget, Mint or Pennies.

Track your spending

To stick with your budget effectively, you’ll also need to track your costs. The correct way of tracking includes recording everything: from that cup of coffee you bought to your monthly rental fees.

Again, it may appear like an overwhelming task. However, a simple spreadsheet may do the work. Whatever your financial goals are, try to document every transaction and oversee how much money you have left. It enables you to stay ahead of your financial game along with other benefits:

  • Reduces mindless spending.
  • Gives an extra nudge to cut back the expenses.
  • You obtain a detailed overview of your spending habits.
  • Improves your organizing skills.
  • Helps you to reach your financial goals.

To make it more fun and avoid chaotic spreadsheets, consider using a budget tracking app. Try one of the previously mentioned apps or one of the following finance trackers:

Buy Christmas gifts in advance and online

Now that you have set a budget and keep track of your expenses, it's also an excellent time to prevent the urges for intuitive spending by buying gifts in advance, and if possible, online.

Consider this: have you ever entered a store to buy shampoo, but ended up buying half of the catalog only to realize that at the checkout counter? For some people, it’s a real problem.

Having your gifts early will not only let you avoid long mall queues and crowds but also will make you feel at ease. Long gone are the days when you have to wander around the stores for hours, looking for that single perfect deal.

Also, running an online store is generally less expensive than maintaining a shopping mall, where visitors pay extra margin for both the good and the service. It’s a known fact that shopping online is cheaper than shopping at traditional brick and mortar retail stores.

Amazon, eBay and millions of specialized websites are there to assist you in a quest for the perfect gift. If you’re entirely out of ideas, look for sites dedicated to Christmas shopping, such as Christmas.am or Canopy. You can even order a Christmas tree to your home delivered by Uber, and for an excellent price (#UberTREES). It just serves to prove that preparing for Christmas online can also be unforgettable, and more importantly, less costly, thrill.

Invest your surplus money and reap the benefits next season

At first, investing to save money for Christmas might feel counterintuitive, but in fact, it offers a multitude of benefits.

Generally speaking, spending over the Christmas period increases. Most people raise their spending during the holidays and unfortunately, most of the money is wasted away on unnecessarily expensive or essential presents. As a result, many people go over their budget and fall into debt. So, even if you have spare money, it’s likely that you will spend it anyway. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you decide to invest it.

Consider investing with Fast Invest. Fast Invest helps to amplify your funds during the holiday season. If you have a surplus of cash, putting it to good use will not only make you feel better but will also help you earn. The initial amount can be as little as €1 without further limits. Therefore, investments are not something that only wealthy people can afford. It’s more of a forward-thinking people thing.

Let’s say you have spare €1000 with 13% interest rate and decide to lend it for 12 months. So, next year at this time you will get back €1130, which means €130 extra euros to spend on Christmas needs or reinvest.

Since the demand for loans is higher on this period, you are also more likely to get better interest rates. So, by investing during this period you save your money and grow your future financial capacity.

Moreover, putting your money in peer-to-peer loan also serves a useful purpose. It’s likely the money you lend will finance someone else’s Christmas and it will make it better for them.

So, to round up, investing in a P2P loan with Fast Invest offers a multitude of benefits: you don’t waste your money on unnecessary purchases, you earn extra cash for your next holiday and you're also doing a favor for someone. A definite win-win to say the least.

Spend quality time with friends and family

Probably the most important advice for the upcoming holidays is a reminder of what they’re all about: family, friends, goodwill, reflection and festive spirit. Don’t chase expensive price tags - you’re not going to be judged on the price of whatever you’re gifting. Most importantly, it's not a competition on how much you spend. When retailers temp you with enticing offers that resemble the best deal of your life, remember that the best gift you can give to someone is your time and attention. Sometimes the best presents are homemade, heart-warming and thoughtful things that remind you of precious people. There is no need to waste your money on things that are not really needed.

It’s impossible to stress this point enough. In the increasingly commercialized world, goods are just goods, and Christmas is about more than just that. If you need to cut back your spending, it’s totally fine. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are, family or friends, make smart decisions and you will likely to have more financial flexibility next year.

If you’re too stressed out about your Christmas budget, there is a chance that you’re doing Christmas wrong. By practicing least several of these financial incentives, you will be able to enjoy your holidays in a high spirit without any unpleasant consequences.