‘I’ll worry about it in January.’
Who among us hasn’t uttered this phrase, or some iteration of it, in the build-up to the most wonderful time of the year, as we’re handing over our credit card for the billionth time?
I, for one, dread to think how many times I’ve said it over the years.
But now I have an app to help make my Christmas shopping easier and my Januarys a bit less bleak.
Between February and October, I pride myself on being organised and money-savvy. But in the past, the moment I heard my first jingle bell, all bets would be off.
I still find it hard to not get swept up in the magic of Christmas now.
I love seeing the shops transform into winter wonderlands overnight and browsing the endless rows of gifts. I don’t even mind listening to Feliz Navidad 50 times a day.
So caught in festive cheer, I find it impossible to ‘just say no’ to another browse around the Christmas market or one last look down the gift aisle.
Which is why, a few years ago, my mum suggested I download The Christmas Gift List app.
Designed to help you get your Christmas spending under control, you can create wish lists for each of your recipients, set budgets and manage costs throughout the festive season.
She had long sung its praises for helping her stay on top of her multitude of gift lists, but I’d never taken her recommendation seriously.
I used to set a budget of £1,000 which, in my head, was enough to cover tree presents, stocking fillers and table gifts for six people; my mum, dad, brother, grandparents and the dog, of course.
The logic behind this figure being that it worked out slightly less than my monthly earnings but still allowed for some wiggle room in terms of bills, social events throughout December and any unexpected costs.
However, I never stuck to the plan. There was always another store, another last-minute impulse buy, another idea that suddenly sprung up that I simply knew one of my recipients would love.
I’d pay the money, wrap the item and bury my head in the sand (or should that be snow?) until my bank statement arrived in January.
By that time, I’d discover I’d not only blown my budget (the worst was when I spent near enough £2,000 without even trying – gulp!) but I’d made sure that January would be very dry indeed – for both my bank account and my social life.
It was after this £2,000 palaver that I realised maybe Mum was right. Maybe I did need to have something to keep me properly accountable.
I downloaded the app for the first time in 2021 and I haven’t looked back since.
Being able to write down a list of the presents I’d purchased, manage their cost and set a budget for each individual person was a godsend.
This meant I didn’t make those impulse purchases at the till just for the sake of it and instead I really thought about what it was I wanted to gift them. Which in turn made my gifts much more personal than a Boots ‘3 for 2’ find.
I could also see how much I had spent, if I’d gone over and how much I had left – though at times I had to remind myself it was a maximum, not a target.
I could even keep track of what items I’d purchased, wrapped and even given, ensuring nothing and no one was forgotten or missed.
Of course, there was still some stress in the festive build up (that’s all part and parcel of the season really though) but it definitely made things easier.
It also meant that, by the time Christmas Day rolled around, I could really enjoy watching everyone’s faces as they opened their gifts without a metaphorical grey cloud of guilt and worry looming over me.
January was definitely much more bearable, too. I didn’t find myself avoiding my banking app or saying no to plans. Nor did I have to dip into savings to get by – something I’ve sworn never to do again.
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It’s hard to say for certain, but I’d say I saved myself at least £500 on both Christmases.
But while that’s all been a win, this year it will be even more important to stick to my budget.
Not only do I still buy for my family, I now also have a nephew and my boyfriend’s family to think of, which brings my new total to around 12 people.
Granted for some, that still may not seem a lot of people to purchase for, but when I also tell you that four of them just so happen to have their birthdays throughout December too, my need for a strict budget becomes clear.
Everything is accounted for this year. From birthday cards and balloons to stocking fillers and table presents, not a single item will be missed from my app this season.
Because even though I’m endeavouring to make this December as magical as it can be – I’m somehow cramming in Winter Wonderland, a trip to the Warner Bros Studios, Winchester Christmas Market, ice skating and more – I don’t want to slip back into old habits.
With this app in my pocket though, I hope to feel like a real Scrooge come December 25 – the one at the end of the book who loves Christmas and splashes his cash on everyone, not the tight-fisted bloke at the beginning!
Now if only there was an app that could wrap everything for me too, I’d be well and truly sorted!
The Tech I Can’t Live Without
Welcome to The Tech I Can’t Live Without, Metro.co.uk‘s new weekly series where readers share the bit of kit that has proved indispensable for them.
From gadgets to software, apps to websites, you’ll read about all manner of innovations that people truly rely on.If you have a bit of tech you can’t live without, email [email protected] to take part in the series
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