It goes without saying that Christmas is expensive. From presents to food and drink, a tree and more, it can be hard to keep on top of your spending when the list seems endless – and it’s no wonder many of us struggle financially over the festive period.
New research by Money.co.uk found that almost half (47%) of Brits do not financially prepare for Christmas throughout the year and one in five (21%) admit they'll get into debt to pay for this year's festivities.
Erik Bohjort, a psychologist and the head of research at Gimi, the pocket-money and financial education app, offers some tips and advice on planning your money over Christmas with the help of money apps.
“Be wise and only buy what you set out to get without being tempted by deals or new services,” Bohjort says. “Marketing campaigns are designed to prey on our weaknesses; from the soppy adverts to the impulse deals, these campaigns can all have a huge impact on the way we spend.
“Essentially, they can tempt us to disregard our bank accounts or to ignore how much items cost, making us feel like we have to be a part of the Christmas experience and shop to our heart’s content.”
Don’t forget that huge retailers will offer you tempting services, such as ‘buy now pay later’, which can be beneficial to some, while for others it means a trap to overspending. “We move towards an increasingly cashless society, it can also become less clear to consumers that they are ‘losing’ money as their spending habits increase,” Bohjort explains.
“With retailers pummelling consumers with these ‘buy now pay later’ schemes, it’s not difficult for us to quickly end up buying more than we can actually afford, through faster alternatives that require little thought or effort.”
For those of us who struggle to manage our money over the festive period, there are some great apps which can help us keep track of and curb our spending.
“A hugely useful app for Christmas spending is PriceRunner,” Bohjort says. “It is the UK’s largest product and price comparison app, helping you keep track of special offers and sales price.
“With its barcode scanner, you are able to compare all products in order to avoid overspending or false sales. So when you find yourself in a pickle with a small budget, this app can ensure you find the best deal and stay away from overpriced companies.”
Oval Money is a free app available on iOS and Android that allows you to monitor your spending, and set up “Steps” – a series of savings rules based on your habits.
Oval currently works with 28 banks and credit cards, which you can sync to your account.
The free app Emma is is described as a “financial advocate” for your money. The app aims to help you avoid overdrafts, track debt, cancel needless – or forgotten – subscriptions and save money.
You can track your spending and set budgets, plus receive notifications, so you can keep track of your spending when buying presents.
Another price comparison app, you enter the product you are interested in buying into the Idealo app and it will tell you how the price has changed over time, as well as where the cheapest place to buy it is.
You can even compare the price of flights too, if you’re planning to get away in the New Year.
The Camelcamelcamel app does a similar thing, but it lets you enter the Amazon URL of a product and see how its price has changed over time on the site.
Christmas Gift List
The Christmas Gift List app is available on Android and tracks budgets, who you've bought for and what you still need to manage and even allows you to tick off which presents are wrapped. There is a similar app called Manage Christmas, which is available in iOS.