How I Manage My Christmas Budget: Mum, on £1.6k a month, bought a turkey from Asda for £8

Sophie Jenkins is looking to spend less on Christmas this year, at a maximum of £50 for her two children 

In our special How I Manage My Christmas Budget series, we speak to people to find out how they are saving and spending money during the festive period.

This week, we speak to Sophie Jenkins, 30, who works full-time as an administrative assistant from home and lives in south Wales with her partner, Daniel, 35, and their children, Elsie, four, and Ronnie, who is seven months old. Sophie used to spend hundreds of pounds on presents and buy matching pyjamas for her family. This year, she’s got a frozen turkey crown for £8 from Asda ready to go and is looking to spend no more than up to £50 on each of her kids. Sophie’s leaving shopping for vegetables until the last minute, in the hope her local supermarket will be giving goods away for free again this year.


Our monthly income: I take home about £1,600 per month from my job as an administrative assistant. Combining my salary, Daniel’s income and child benefit, we have around £3,000 coming in each month.

Our Christmas budget: Food, £100; drinks, £20; decorations, £60; pre-Christmas activities, £50; presents for family, between £10 and £20 per adult; presents for the children, up to around £50 per child.

Our main monthly outgoings: Rent, £600; groceries, around £280; broadband, £25; mobile phones, £15 each for the two of us on sim-only pay-as-you-go packages; car fuel. £100. I’m always looking for a bargain and talk about my spending and budgeting habits on my TikTok page (bargainlovingmam).

In previous years, I spent a lot of money on Christmas. I would spend hundreds of pounds on presents. I once got a tablet for my daughter and would buy balloon arches. We used to buy matching Christmas pyjamas, which could cost £50 for all of us, yet only be worn once. I think lots of people buy matching pyjamas to fit in on social media. I spent about £400 on Christmas last year, but honestly could not tell you what I purchased. There was a lot of panic buying involved!

The higher cost of living this year has greatly affected my shopping habits and approach to Christmas spending. Our bills have risen while our monthly disposable income has fallen. We have to think before we spend.

This year, I’ll be spending Christmas with my partner and the kids at home. Before Covid, we’d spend Christmas visiting everyone and it took the shine away. Since then, we’ve enjoyed Christmas at home, which is great as the kids can play with their presents all day.

We recently visited a Christmas lights show at Margam Park in Port Talbot. It’s part of the Luminate UK franchise and cost £50 for the four of us. We also spent £4.50 on mulled wine and £2.50 on marshmallows. The evening out wasn’t cheap, but it’s something we do every year. This will be our only pre-Christmas activity this year.

I love cooking Christmas dinner as it’s basically a glorified Sunday roast. I shop at Asda as I find it the cheapest and I scan the items as I shop, which helps me stick to a budget. This year, I’ve budgeted £100 for food over the entire Christmas period, with an extra £20 earmarked for drinks.

I purchased a frozen turkey crown for £8 from Asda and a joint of beef for £4.50. I won’t buy the vegetables until Christmas Eve because last year my local supermarket gave the vegetables away for free on that date. I’m hoping they do the same this year.

If I need to, I’ll buy tinned vegetables to help keep costs down. We don’t like sprouts and I won’t be buying them just because it’s Christmas. We also don’t like Christmas pudding, so I’ll buy some kind of cake instead. I make my own gravy for the meal and make my own cheese sauce for the cauliflower.

My stance on present buying has changed a little this year. I usually tell myself that I won’t spend much, but end up panic buying at the last minute. This year, however, I will be religiously sticking to my budget for everyone. I want to make sure I don’t end up regretting buying anything.

The budget for each of the kids is up to £50, but hopefully it’ll come in less. My daughter will be getting more presents as she is five, while my son is still only seven months old, so he doesn’t really understand the concept of Christmas.

Sophie, her partner Daniel, and their children, Elsie and Ronnie (photo: supplied)

My daughter will be getting between ten to 15 presents and my son will receive a handful of toys which he will love. Our neighbours kindly gave us a lot of toys they no longer use as they have a son a year older than mine. I’ll be giving these toys to Ronnie for Christmas. I also picked up a free bag of baby toys via Facebook from a lady who lives nearby. The bundle included some LeapFrog toys, toy cars, toy phones and books. Again, Ronnie will be getting these this Christmas.

I’ve already purchased Ronnie a CoComelon train for £4.50 from a clearance sale at Tesco and a teething toy and snail toy via TikTok for £6. I also got him some DVDs, including Peppa Pig ones, from the local tip shop for £10.

I’ve been buying my daughter presents throughout the year. I’ve purchased her things from end of summer clearance sales, local charity shops and the tip shop. I’ve got her some clothes and shoes from Vinted, including a pair of brand-new Nike trainers for £1. Her main present is a toy kitchen which our neighbour gave us for free. I’ll be upcycling it with a £2.50 pot of paint. I also ordered some kitchen pots and pans for children from a shop via TikTok, which I know she will absolutely love.

Daniel and I purchased tickets for a country music festival next March, so we’ve decided not to get anything for each other this year. That said, I have got him some sweets and an aftershave set I found in Home Bargains for £3.99!

When it comes to presents for other family members, I often create Christmas hampers. I buy cellophane and tissue paper and add the items I’ve got from Poundland or Home Bargains. Depending on my budget, these generally cost between £5 to £20 each to create. The children also make Christmas cards. We buy paint and card and usually do handprints or Christmas designs. They cost under £1 to make and my family love receiving them!

One of our favourite things to do over Christmas is build a den with sofas and blankets and put a Christmas movie on while drinking hot chocolate and eating popcorn. We also drive around the local area spotting all the Christmas lights. It doesn’t sound like much but growing up these are the things I remember doing, not what presents were under the tree or how much my parents spent.

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