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How to save for a deposit over Christmas

  1. 06 December 2017
  2. By Andi Michael

The festive season is almost upon us, and it seems to start earlier every year. But is it really possible to carry on saving for your deposit without becoming a Scrooge?

Last year it was estimated that the average UK family spend almost £800 over Christmas, on presents, food, decorations and going out. It’s a time for celebration, but that means more parties, more gifts and more spending. 12% of people said they would be using a credit card to help them pay for Christmas.
So what is a first time buyer to do, diligently saving for their deposit when the holidays come around?

Surely it’s not appropriate to forego presents to others because you’re saving for a home? And yet, how much frustration and disappointment will you feel see that money that could get you one step closer to your dream home disappearing on turkey, booze and awkward presents given out of obligation?

With some fairly mathematically challenged suggestions for first time buyers savings making the news recently, we felt it was better to look at what you’re really spending on. We can’t help you out with high rents and static wages, or fix the housing crisis, but we have a few tips and tricks to keep you saving over the festive period.

Keep it simple

If you’re trying to focus on saving this year, let your family and friends know. There is nothing worse than receiving a big, over the top gift when you can only afford something minimal. Explain that you would rather only do small gifts this year – most family members will support your decision to keep to your savings goal – after all, do you want to start the new year feeling closer to your goal, or further from it? If you’re saving with a partner, agree to forego presents for a shared experience, like a night out. The rest of the money you would have spent can go into your savings. Your gift to each other is investing in a shared future – what could be a more romantic gift?!

Keep it homemade

Not everyone is crafty, and your mother in law may not jump for joy at your latest creation with a glue gun, but there’s no reason you can’t play to your strengths. Making edible festive treats, like cookies, cakes and truffles will always be well received, especially if you present them attractively. There are tutorials for making bath bombs, candles and other straightforward gifts, and if you make them in batches these will work out quite cheap. The idea is to trade spending money for spending time. Take the person’s taste into account and try to match your gift to them. It really is the thought that counts.

Opt out with friends

Your friends are definitely the people who will understand when you’re saving for a deposit, especially if they have recently bought a home or are also saving. Instead of buying presents for each other, why not do a Secret Santa between you? Or even better, instead of presents, throw a pot luck party, where everyone brings a dish. You’ll have the memories of spending time together, rather than spending a small fortune over a few days.

Put that FOMO back in the box

It’s easy to feel the Fear of Missing Out around Christmas time. It seems like every other day is a staff party, or a Christmas party, or the lights turning on, or some sort of festive event with delicious food and seasonal drinks. You don’t want to miss out, you want to catch up with old friends, and you don’t want to let anyone down. Your options here are down to you:

•    You can go to each event, spending on entry tickets, food and booze.
•    You can limit the events you go to
•    You can go to each event, but eat at home beforehand and limit your drinks. 

This is really down to who you are as a person – if you’re going to feel awkward joining friends after a meal, then forego it. If you know you won’t be able to resist that third glass of mulled wine, that’s up to you. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and play to those.

Remember what you’re saving for

It’s harder to stay strong in the face of festive cheer and 3 for 2 mince pies, especially because a deposit is such a long term savings goal. You don’t want to feel left out or deprived, but the truth is that in order to reach your goal, you have to remain consistent. Create a physical reminder of what you’re saving for – it could be a list of the features of your dream home, or the reasons you want your own place. It could be a picture of a home you like, or the future you visualise there. Whatever it is you need to remember what you are aiming for, and what you’ll achieve if you do.

Make a plan when it comes to saving over Christmas, and make sure you prioritise the things that matter to you, whether that’s spending time with friends and family, seeing the Christmas lights or singing carols. Feeling festive doesn’t have to knock you off your goals – stay strong!

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