My mortgage went up by £600 a month so I’m overhauling how we do Christmas

Charlotte is among a number of people who have completely rehauled their Christmas plans in order to cope with the cost of living

When Charlotte Pirie, 33, from Hertfordshire, a marketing consultant, and her husband’s mortgage rose by £600 a month, they knew they’d have to cut costs radically for Christmas. “We hadn’t anticipated quite how much [our mortgage] would go up by”, Charlotte explains to i.

Although they had just stopped paying nursery fees for their daughters (age three and five), with even more mounting bills such as electricity and gas, as well as home and car insurance, they still have much less for festive spending.

Charlotte is one of many rehauling their Christmas plans in order to cope with the cost of living. One way she’s done this is by limiting the number of cards she sends out every year, as postage has become so expensive.

She has also decided to reduce present buying for the adults in the family. “Within our immediate family there are eight to 10 adults that we used to buy Christmas gifts for. We were all spending a big chunk of money and time to get gifts for everyone and no one ever really got anything they wanted,” she tells i, adding: “We decided to switch to a group secret Santa with a £30 budget and each buy one single gift with more thought put into what we buy.”

Furthermore, Charlotte and her husband aren’t getting each other presents this year, and instead have booked a spa day deal a few days after Christmas. “It was £100 so works out a lot less than adding up all the gifts we would have bought, but we will enjoy it more,” she says.

As well as making her own gifts, including macramé, so she can make plant hangers for her sisters (which she estimates costs around £20 to £30 per hanger when bought in a shop), Charlotte has been buying gifts for her daughters throughout the year. “When I see great offers on things such as barbies, LOL dolls, craft kits and stocking fillers, I pick them up and stash them away.

“As it nears Christmas, I then usually only need to buy one to two gifts for each of them of the really specific things they’ve asked for. It really helps to spread the cost and not have a huge outlay in November and December.”

Chantal Lachance-Gibson, 41, from Glasgow, is another cost-savvy mum. As well as buying craft materials when they’re on offer and creating her own Christmas decorations and gifts, she uses online tools to save.

Last year Chantal earned more than £112 in the run-up to Christmas by buying presents, festive crafts and food through TopCashback, a free site, where people earn cashback for purchases. She mainly shops with brands such as Not On The High Street and Etsy to support small businesses, purchasing festive treats, stocking stuffers, and some good quality clothing from Ecovibe and Ethical Superstore.

Mary Green, a finance planner and mum of two from Gloucester, recommends selling clothes on Vinted or eBay to keep costs down. “You can often buy designer clothes new with tags at a fraction of the prices in the shops,” she says. “Secondhand or reconditioned tech from eBay can be a great option for kids wanting consoles or phones.

“Bundles of books and toys can make great stocking fillers and maximise the amount you get for your money. My son was obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine when he was little and we got a fantastic track with a multitude of extras secondhand, which he adored.

“We got my daughter a new baby doll but then a bundle of doll clothes from Facebook Marketplace for only £10.”

She says that second hand can be eco-friendly as well as good for your budget.

Mary recommends “planning ahead in advance for next year” and says “it’s worth looking at putting your savings into a cash ISA with rates of around five percent”.

She also suggests “setting up a WhatsApp Christmas saving challenge with a group of friends or family in January and using funds from selling items you no longer use or other side hustles, so you have got a pot of money ready for festive fun. Apps such as Plum have round up facilities where if for example you spend £1.75 it will round it up to £2.00 and put the 0.25 percent into a separate savings pot.”

Mary, who enjoys baking Christmas biscuits, making Christmas wreaths, jams, chutneys and fudge for gifts, adds: “There is a lot of pressure to spend, spend, spend at Christmas, but some of the most magical times I have with my family over Christmas are low cost or free.”

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