'Tis the season for saving

Christmas is traditionally a wonderful time of the year, spent with family and surrounded by glitter and sparkle. A time for rest and relaxation where we can eat, drink and be merry. But it's also a time when we can see our bills and expenses climbing as far as the north pole. So, to keep the glass half full, let's look as some simple ways to ease your financial belt this Christmas.

Make a list and check it twice

Like most financial situations, organisation is key. Make a gift list for each person, noting what you want to get and how much to spend before you even set foot in a shop. The earlier you do this the better. Shopping in the Christmas rush can cause you to make snap decisions and 'just get it' credit card behaviour. Planning well in advance gives you time to find the best prices and not only helps curb your Christmas spending, it makes you a great gift giver as you'll put thought into every item you choose.

Good things come to those who craft

After putting your list together consider who would enjoy handmade gifts. Homemade jams and chutneys, potted plants, cards and baked goods are adored by most and can save you a lot of money.

Santa's saving secrets

Where possible, organise a secret santa system with groups of friends, colleagues and/or family. It makes present opening even more fun with everyone trying to guess who bought what for who and this way each guest only buys one gift.

A day well spent

If you're hosting a Christmas event, plan a menu and ask everyone to bring one dish or a bottle of wine to share. Guests like to, and usually do, bring something anyway so this just makes the day more organised and saves you from covering all the costs.

Have a mortgage holiday

If you're in desperate need of more cash flow over the holiday season talk to me about your options. You may be able to take a mortgage holiday, where you pause your repayments for December and January, to take the financial stress out of your family holiday. It's not right for everyone but don't hesitate to get in touch if you do want to find out more about this solution.

So-ho-ho organised

Want to make Christmas next year a breeze? Set up an automatic deposit into a separate savings account each month. You might not notice a small portion of your income being squirreled away for the next year but you'll certainly appreciate the nice lump sum when it comes to Christmas spending 2015.