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By the end of December, a peculiar phenomenon has usually begun to surface in households the world over. It occurs somewhere between the presents, the parties and the month-long feeding frenzy – and it may well happen in yours.

Ever so suddenly, formerly bountiful bank balances from New York to Newcastle begin to resemble January’s cast-off Christmas trees; used up, undernourished and abandoned on the proverbial street corner.

It’s a festive financial epidemic; a post-Christmas plummet that sees us paying the price for months of mulled wine and merriment – often with our waistlines, but mainly with our browbeaten bank accounts. Christmas spending is something that increases reliably year on year; in fact, recent research has suggested that UK shoppers are planning on spending 12.5% more this Christmas than the last.

Person holding Christmas present

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The statistics about our collective Christmas spending – and a wealth of anecdotal evidence – seem to indicate that most of us now see excessive Christmas spending as just one of those unavoidable annual rites of passage that we have to endure in order to graduate to the lofty heights of a shiny new year.

It’s generally accepted that ‘Christmas is just expensive’ and that towering costs are just the price we pay for conjuring our very own consumerist Christmas miracle. The average Christmas spend in 2016 was £748, and that shows no sign of slowing down – which indicates why January has historically always been considered the point of the year when we’re at our most unhealthy, both financially and physically. We’ve all at one point or another experienced the self-fulfilling cycle of riotous overindulgence and punishing self-discipline that December and January bring – in fact, that feast and fast attitude is something we’ve become more than comfortable with. A lot of us seem to actively seek it.

And there’s nothing wrong with spending money at Christmas. Most of the time, it’s in rightful pursuit of family fun and bonding, or the simple pleasures of giving (both of which we’re in full support of here at Starling!). After all, the reason we built a new kind of bank in the first place was so that we could give people tools that can free them from toxic habits and foster an attitude of financial well-being – thus allowing them to enjoy more of the things that bring them joy!

Because aside from religion, at its heart, joy is what Christmas is all about. The best bits of this time of year are either free or they’re worth the expense; the look on someone’s face when they’ve unwrapped something they really wanted, for example, or a table laden with great food and time spent with friends and family. We want you to be able to experience more of that, not less – and we’re not suggesting that you suddenly overhaul your entire festive budget with a new brand of draconian austerity, because frankly, that’s unrealistic and unnecessary.

Instead, this year we’re encouraging you to view your Christmas expenses through a longer lens, so you can begin 2018 with a sense of financial health, stability and vitality. There are plenty of small steps you take in the run up to Christmas to keep your festive budget under control, so that you can enter a brand new year free – or at least a little free-er – from financial anxiety.

It’s not about spending less – it’s about spending smarter; cutting back on the unnecessary costs and keeping the spending you can’t avoid under control so that you have more to spend on the things you really want.

Read on to discover Starling’s 12 Saves of Christmas – and happy saving, Starlings!

The 12 saves of Christmas infographic
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