*paid promotion with Admiral Insurance
I feel like crying every time I look at my bank balance at the moment. This time of year is so expensive. And it’s not just Christmas for us; December is a month full of family birthdays too so a double whammy of gifts to buy and parties to attend.
Cardiff Daddy and I are both pretty sensible with our finances. We’re not especially extravagant people; we don’t spend a fortune on stuff we don’t need; and we love a good bargain. I even have a special Christmas and December birthdays bank account that I pay into every month to help spread the cost throughout the year.
But let’s face it – no matter how frugal you are it’s an expensive time of year. And it’s getting more expensive too, right? With the rising cost of living and wages staying static Christmas is costing more and more each year, right?
Well, not always. Admiral Insurance have created a new interactive widget showing how the average Christmas spend has changed over the last 40 years. The Christmas Cost Index lets you instantly compare how much families spent during the festive season in 1976, 1986, 1996 and 2006 with last year’s Christmas 2016.
Admiral have collated the average costs for everything from food and drink to a family treat such as a trip to the cinema or the panto and even the cost of all the cleaning up afterwards to show how prices compare.
My challenge was to do a virtual shop to see if I could find Admiral’s list of Christmas essentials for cheaper prices than in 2006. The one condition is that everything has to come from high street stores and not internet-only retailers.
My life was certainly different back in 2006. The man I now call Cardiff Daddy and I were engaged to be married; we were renovating our first house together; we had no children. Look how young, wrinkle-free and not tired I look back in 2006!
Back then we’d never hosted Christmas and I was more concerned with the cost of a sparkly dress to wear on a works’ night out than children’s presents and feeding the extended family for the day. Fast forward 10 years and every penny counts as we try to get the maximum out of Christmas with minimum spend.
Here’s what the average person spent on Christmas in 2006.
I have to admit I was surprised by just how much some people spent on certain items. The index gives an average but some of the costs seem excessive. £163.43 on a new dress? I usually spend around £60-£70. And £18 for children’s pyjamas! Are my children being deprived because I don’t spend that much on nightwear?!
When I started the virtual shop I wanted to make sure I didn’t just fill my virtual trolley with value ranges to try to keep the cost down instead opting for some mid-price products and a few luxuries.
I’m a vegetarian so I asked Cardiff Daddy’s advice on the Christmas meat. Tesco are selling a medium-sized fresh whole turkey that serves 11-14 for £23.96 – so just a few pence more expensive than 2016. Two packs of 10 Tesco Finest Pigs in Blanket will cost a fiver.
Also at Tesco I could get 30 loose sprouts for £1.26 and two heads of broccoli for 98p. Potatoes were 54p per kilo so not too far off the 2006 price. Carrots are 60p per kilo; a 1kg bag of frozen peas is £1.30; red cabbage is 69p; stuffing mix is 80p; 6 Mr Kipling mince pies are £1.50 (although Tesco own brand are cheaper); a Tesco Finest Christmas pudding is £5; £5 for a seven cheese selection board; 190g bag of Haribo is 97p; advent calendar was £3.
Food was £45.11 in 2006 versus £42.35 now.
Total saving on food £2.76
I probably could have got it cheaper if I’d shopped around a bit but Tesco is easy and convenient for me.
Lidl is the place to go for affordable drinks that actually taste good too.
£2.58 for two bottles of Pepsi cola.
£8.99 for their Irish Cream liqueur. And it’s good. I buy a bottle every year.
£10.96 for a bottle of award-winning Comte de Senneval Champagne Brut
£4.95 for a bottle of Corte alle Mura Chianti red wine which scores really highly on their customer tasting scoreboard.
£5.99 for a bottle of Cimarosa Sauvignon Blanc awarded bronze in Decanter wine awards.
Plus a quick trip to Aldi for their £10.49 bottle of Le Tonneau brandy.
So that’s £57.33 on drinks in 2006 and £43.96 in 2017 giving a lovely saving of £13.37 – enough for a bottle of gin!
As I said above £163.43 is more than I’d spend on a dress so I thought I’d keep up with the Mrs Average by virtually splurging on this lovely black number from Phase Eight in Debenhams. It’s usually £150 but is currently reduced to £110. Maybe with the virtual money saved I could get some new shoes too. I also came in under budget on a new watch with this Swarovski one from House of Fraser costing £219.
I must admit I was really surprised to see people 11 years ago were spending best part of £50 on ties! This Paul Costelloe Mr Fox tie is £30 in House of Fraser.
Having recently bought my two eldest children bigger bikes I know how expensive they can be as children get older. I thought this Apollo Force 18 inch wheel was a good price at £140 reduced to £100 and coming in well under budget.
I don’t think I have ever spent £18 on a pair of children’s pyjamas! Or even £16 which is what Admiral says the average cost today is. My daughter already owns these starry pyjamas from Matalan priced £9 and I know either of my boys would love these Marvel superhero ones priced £10. We’ve had Matalan PJs before and they’ve lasted really well.
My purchases came to £478. I saved £53.43 on the dress; £19.72 on the tie; £9.56 on the girl’s pyjamas; £8.39 on the boy’s pyjamas; £23.13 on the watch £37.46 on the bike.
Total savings = £151.69 (I’ll virtually use the rest to gift myself a spa day!)
Christmas decorations and accessories
I always get my wrapping paper in the sales straight after Christmas when it’s around 30p a roll. However you can pick up a 10m roll in Asda for £1. These food-themed cards inn Tesco made me laugh. You can get 20 for £1.50 or they’re on 3 for 2 so 60 for £3. I opted for Asda’s premium crackers at £5 for eight although you can get them much cheaper. I thought this 6ft Norway Spruce for £50 at Homebase is a good mid-range artificial Christmas tree.
It cost a total of £59 and I saved 89p on the wrapping paper; 13p on the cards; £4.21 on the crackers and £37.39 on the tree.
Total savings = £42.62
Christmas family outings
All tickets at both Vue and Premier Cinemas in Cardiff city centre are £4 per person so a family of four would cost £16. If you’re not bothered about seeing the latest releases you can make even more savings by going to one of the early morning family screenings.
The cheapest way to see panto is undoubtedly to go for one of the amateur companies. However you can still see the big scale professional ones for less than the average cost in 2006. Choose an off-peak mid-week evening performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Cardiff’s New Theatre and you can get a family ticket for four for the cost of £79.
(And with the money you’ve saved you could also go to see Hansel and Gretel at The Gate for a total of £29 and still save yourself £2.14 from the cost of 2006.)
The trips came to a total of £95 and I saved £4.05 on the cinema and £31.14 on the panto tickets.
Total saving = £35.19
The cleaning supplies
Cheap cleaning supplies are a false economy! Cheap washing up liquid gets used up so quickly because you need so much of it. Cheap bin bags break really easily. But still I managed to find a 433ml bottle of Fairy Original Washing Up Liquid Lemon on offer for £1 at Asda as well as a pack of 30 tie-top 75l refuse sacks for £2.20 and a 3m Bacofoil Turkey Foil for £1.50.
I saved 25p on the washing up liquid; the bin liners were 8p more; the foil was 80p cheaper with the total cost £4.70
Total saving = £1.13
My overall spending and saving
My 2017 shop came to £730.69, giving an impressive saving of £247.17.
And when you consider the average cost in 2016 is £1127.45 this is an extra bonus.
How does the cost of your Christmas shopping compare? Admiral Insurance’s Cost of Christmas interactive widget is available here.
See how these other bloggers got on comparing the costs of Christmas:
DIY Daddy compared the cost of Christmas in 1986
Slummy Single Mummy compared the cost of Christmas in 1996
Mum in the Mad House compared the cost of Christmas in 1976