It could be you….but it wasn’t me….!

Apparently 2 tickets matched the 6 numbers on last night’s lottery win, sharing a whopping £66 million between them!!! If I had won, my blog would have changed overnight from ‘how to address my retirement savings gap’ to ‘how to manage my enormous wealth’. Assuming I could be bothered that is from my sun lounger somewhere in the Caribbean. However, I got a measly 1 number so back to the original plan…

… back to working out the cost of Xmas!

I’ve been using a phone app called ‘Spending Tracker’ to do just that over the past year or so, setting myself a monthly spending budget and tracking my daily expenses. I love this app as it’s very easy to use, and I can see exactly how much I spend on different types of expenses. The only problem is, despite cutting back, I haven’t once stuck to my monthly budget. Either I have a completely unrealistic budget or I need to work out where I’m going wrong. The point of this blog I guess, and hopefully a question I’ll come to answer over the course of this month.

Anyway, despite not actually sticking to my budget, it does mean that after a little Saturday afternoon sit-down with my app, I could work out exactly how much I had spent on Xmas gifts, and with a few guesstimations, how much on Xmas food and drink. About £450 on the first, and £200 on the second. So about £650 in seasonal spending.

Having a little dig around to see how I compare to the average, I found the following figures:

  • A new Money Advice Service survey says that the average spend per household was £429 including presents, food, travel and socialising.

 

  • The website thisismoney.co.uk quotes 2 surveys: one by Groupon saying the average spend is £499 on presents, with an average £36 per gift, on an average 14 gifts; the other by ING saying the median spend is €420 or £300 on presents (apparently about 15% of our take home pay in the UK).

 

  • The Sun quoted a YouGov poll saying UK households spent £821 on average on presents, food, drink and decorations in 2014; and also a Moneysupermarket.com survey showing the average spend on a UK child was £132.

I have no idea how the surveys were compiled, and there are obviously differences as they vary quite a bit. Some are household spend, others individual spend, and the figures will vary quite a bit depending on where you live in the country, if you have kids, if you’re entertaining etc. However, the 2 figures quoted here as average spend on presents are £300 and £499, and the 2 figures for average household spend are £429 and £821. For no good reason, I feel reassured as my spend was within these ranges, as if this is evidence that I haven’t over-spent. I say no good reason because it makes no difference what the average is if you can’t afford it.

Putting your Xmas money aside every month

The ING survey also found that across Europe about a third of people save for Xmas over the year, which is similar to another survey from Principality Building Society which showed 28% of people in England & Wales save up over the year to help pay for Xmas.

I’m one of the roughly third of the population that has been putting money aside each month, but following my number crunching with the help of my app I’ve discovered that I have been under-saving. What I estimated I spend on presents was actually less than reality, and I also didn’t think to factor in saving for the extra goodies I like to stuff my face with at this time.

Discovery # 1 in 2016!

So it’s been quite a useful exercise seeing the figures in actual black and white and, once I’ve worked out what else my money is going on each month, hopefully something I can change this year. If I can afford to up the amount I save each month to cover the actual cost of my Xmas then this will be one benefit of my new focus on finances.

Unless of course I’m the lucky winner of the next ridiculously enormous lottery pay out, when I’ll be working with a completely different festive budget…

 

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