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Did you overstep the Christmas budget?

Did you overstep the Christmas budget?

Category: Money

Updated: 11/07/2017
First Published: 19/01/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

It's all too easy to get a bit carried away at Christmas, and sometimes the budget ends up being chucked out with all the torn up wrapping paper. Last Christmas was no exception, with many UK shoppers finding themselves stretching their Christmas budget past its breaking point, spending an average of £159.86 more on gifts, food and drink than they had originally intended.

The cost of Christmas

In 2014, UK shoppers typically splashed £305.52 on Christmas goodies for the festive season, according to research carried out by Asda Money, but this meant breaking the budget for many – if they had set a budget at all.

The research found that just over a third of respondents hadn't planned a Christmas budget, but of those who had (65%), a quarter failed at sticking to their plans. On average, shoppers overspent by £160 – a significant sum, especially if this extra cash was found using a credit card. Indeed, one in five shoppers (19%) did their spending with plastic, which means that many people could be starting the New Year with a financial hangover. Worryingly, another third of Brits (30%) ended up delving into their savings pots to cover the cost of Christmas.

Big spenders

In the study, women were found to go more over-budget, with women overspending £169 on average compared with men, who overspent by a more modest £148. Those living in the Midlands were also found to have been far more liberal with their Christmas spending, with the average shopper going £172 over budget.

The biggest overspenders were those in the 35 to 54-year-old age bracket, who spent an average of £177 over what they had initially planned.

Planning for 2015

After having blown the budget for this year, many shoppers are making plans to keep Christmas spending in check for 2015. Just over a fifth (22%) of those questioned in the survey said that they planned to formulate a budget earlier this year, while another 21% declared that they would try to spend less on presents, food and drink – something that may be easier said than done.

Commenting on the findings, Michelle Creaney of Asda Money said: "[It can be] difficult to keep to a Christmas budget. People want to make the most of the big day and there are often those little extras that are bought at the last minute."

For this reason, it pays to be organised. Christmas may seem a long way away, but by planning your budget now you can ensure that you are ready to hit the shops in December.

The best way to get prepared is to find a decent savings account and start making regular contributions to it. This way you will end up with a nice pot of cash that will cover all your Christmas treats. An easy access ISA will be ideal for this, but make sure you are disciplined and don't dip in before you need to!

If you find yourself paying interest from Christmas spending on credit cards, why not think about finding a 0% interest balance transfer card? If you can clear the balance before the interest-free period ends, you can save a lot of money that would otherwise go on interest payments.

What next?

Find a savings account for your Christmas pot

Take a look at the best balance transfer deals

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.