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Christmas decorations are starting to appear in towns and cities, which only means one thing: it’s time to start Christmas shopping.

Getting ahead of the game is important to make sure that you get everything you and your family want, but for some it’s harder to get started. Personal planning and budgeting are some of the hardest things to organise for busy working mums, but we’ve provided a few tips to help you get started.

Online savings
The key to most Christmas savings is start early. If you do online banking, you can designate a certain amount of your pay check per month to an online savings account specifically named ‘Christmas’.

Seeing your money accumulate over the months will make you feel a lot easier about the coming winter months. Winter itself is an expensive month, with new winter clothes and coats as well as elevated heating bills, but keeping money saved aside for these events is ideal.

Even if you start shopping in November, make sure that you keep saving! It will help build up the cash pile for next year’s Christmas – maybe aim for a holiday with the kids one year!

Pre-emptive buying
If you find that saving is a struggle (seeing money sitting there makes it very tempting to spend!), then make your purchases Christmas related. Getting decorations and presents in the January Sales is a great way to spend money, but feel less guilty about it. If you can’t get your children something they want one year, buy it in the sales and save it for the next year.

Preparation is the key!
Be aware that children’s attention spans can sometimes be short, and a year is a long time to wait. Their tastes may change and they may not want a certain toy or electronic gadget by the time Christmas next comes around. Birthdays during the middle of the year tend to dash plans to buy for Christmas. Presents bought for Christmas can easily be given on Birthdays instead.

Payday loans
Sometimes all the planning and budgeting just doesn’t work and you’re left with presents to buy and no cash left. These are short-term borrowings from a payday bank that you pay back within a few months.

If you’re waiting on an invoice or your next pay check to come through after Christmas, you can take out a payday loan to give you an influx of cash to tide you over until then.

Christmas saving schemes
Instead of saving yourself, why not invest in a Christmas savings scheme? There are many companies that offer this type of scheme, where you pay a monthly fee which you get to spend at Christmas. This is usually in the form of vouchers or purchases made through the company catalogue. Each company will offer you different deals and interest rates, so make sure to look around.

Although you are investing your money, there is no 100% guarantee. Farepak was a popular Christmas hamper business, but collapsed in 2006. Those who saved with them only received a small amount of the money that they had paid. Although this is a rare occurrence, be aware of the terms and conditions you get into.

There are many techniques to saving money, even for working mums who are constantly busy. By following one of these steps, or consulting with a financial advisor, you can easily find a way that suits you and your lifestyle.

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