At risk of becoming the new Scrooges, we have taken it on ourselves to hint at the tricks and traps that lie in wait for personal finances over the festive Christmas and New Year season. Feel free to read them, and sing along. Or perhaps weep.
A donation to a charity Experts say that giving to others is often more satisfying than receiving something yourself. Why not take advantage of the feeling this Christmas and support your favourite cause?2
Two budgets blown It can be tempting to spend big to celebrate. Truth is, we’re all vulnerable to peer effects and wanting to impress. So if money’s tight, think carefully first: will others remember or care?3
Three gift cards If you’re one of the lucky 16% in Europe with a Christmas gift card, spend it early – studies suggest that discount cards filed away in the bottom of drawers are often forgotten.4
Four useless gifts It can be tough to choose the right presents – and some 15% don't want what they get. Meanwhile, research shows experiences can make us happier than material things.5
Five late fees With so much on our mind in December, it’s easy to forget regular commitments for credit cards and other bills. Beat fees and charges by automating minimum payments in advance.6
Six painful payments Actually handing over physical notes and coins can feel almost painful, compared to cashless payments. Paying cash at Christmas can make it easier to control what you spend.7
Seven scrimping savers More than a third across Europe, the USA and Australia save specially for Christmas. Saving even a little every payday combats present bias – and can mean a bigger party later.8
Eight festive freebies Ever heard of the power of free? Price rises can be hidden by the addition of a “free” item; research proves this boosts the chance people will buy, even if they don’t really want the freebie.9
Nine niggly nudges Out Christmas shopping and come back with extra tinsel or discounted decorations, conveniently displayed at eye level? You’ve been nudged, and probably bought more than you needed.10
Ten debts to debit About one in ten admit going into debt in the run-up to Christmas. Make sure this isn’t you: use mental accounting to prepare an itemised budget for festivities, and stick to it.11
Eleven online offers Many people say it’s worth buying in the seasonal online sales just for the big discounts on offer. But even if it feels like a good deal, if you end up spending more, was it really worth it?12
Twelve complex choices Christmas presents myriad money choices, from saving to spending. But deciding is easier if you prioritise what’s important to you – next year, after all, you’ll do it all again.