Fashion stylist Alex Stedman (aka The Frugality) has plenty of ideas on how to avoid spending all your money this festive season
By this point, your spending may be in overdrive. You keep tap, tap, tapping your debit (okay fine, credit) card on everything from three-course meals to secret Santa and endless Ubers. You don’t need us to tell you how expensive the festive season can be, but don’t panic – help is on the way.
Queen of frugality Alex Stedman – who has built a career from blogging about spending money sensibly – has joined forces with NatWest, to help us feel confident with our money and spend smart over Christmas.
Together, they have developed a 12 Days of Christmas Money Diary – lifting the lid on how you spend and save at Christmas time.
‘Christmas is associated with generosity, and therefore, often wealth – and it doesn’t have to be that at all,’ Alex, 36, explains. ‘If you have conversations about money often everyone is really relieved. Empower yourself by knowing how much money you have and where you choose to spend it.’
Have a read of Alex’s top tips and thank us later.
‘For NatWest’s ’12 days of Christmas money diary,’ I’ve written down everything I’ve spent during the last 12 days. And I mean everything. Every tube journey on my Oyster card, every coffee or drink purchased throughout the day…Writing it all down really makes you aware of your outgoings, especially over Christmas time. It was a great exercise highlighting the different pressures and joys of spending over the festive period and I will continue doing this going forward.’
Food for thought
‘Bringing lunch in to work every day saves so.much.money. There shouldn’t be a stigma around saving money. It doesn’t mean your cheap, and not wanting to spend £8 pounds on lunch every day doesn’t mean your stingy. I really believe that there’s nothing wrong with being aware of your bank balance and saying to a friend, ‘let’s meet at your house for dinner’ – you don’t always have to go out for meals and spend a small fortune.’
For the love of lists
‘Before I head out to do a weekly food shop for my family, I write down everything we have in our cupboard and fridge. I try to use up those ingredients first, and buy ingredients to make a meal out of them. I always plan the whole week, this ensures there is no waste with food and it keeps my bills really low. Also, I cook everything from scratch. Batch cooking means it’s cheaper and you’ve got lunch the next day. Result.’
(Don’t) break the rules
‘I’m quite methodical, I have to follow rules. Having this structure helps keep costs down, particularly throughout December when most people follow a ‘YOLO’ mantra. For example, unless I have my eco-coffee cup on me, I don’t let myself buy coffee when I’m out. It teaches me to be eco-friendly as well as well as be rewarded with 10p off.’
‘I’m currently creating a home-made coffee scrub using previously used jars. I’m planning on giving them to friends and family – although I have to admit, we’ll see how it goes. It could be a disaster! Meanwhile, I always re-use my Christmas cards. I cut in half cards I’d received the year before, and send them as a postcard the following year. I hope in a few years time to get my daughter involved in this sustainable tradition.’
Less is more
‘This Christmas, I am giving one small present and receiving one small present. I’m not having a long list. Christmas is a really expensive time for everyone. Having rules, for example ‘no presents for adults’, and ‘only one gift per child’, can really ease the financial strain. Also, we’re not buying presents for my 18-month daughter because she doesn’t understand it yet, and we’ve limited her grandparents to giving her one present this year. She still has the joy of the day, but this way, it removes the emphasis of present-buying.
Size doesn’t matter
‘Saving is very important. I know, I know, it is hard these days, but we think we have to put hundreds away each month and that’s just not the case. Start small, even putting away ten pounds at the beginning or end of the month, or have a piggy bank for spare change. Crack into it when you need a tip for the Deliveroo guy. On pay day I always put a little bit away. It leaves my account and then I don’t notice it’s gone. It’s a flawless system!’
Alex has been working in partnership with NatWest to create a Christmas money diary, to help start a conversation around how everyone can become more financially confident this Christmas.