Women spend 12 hours getting ready for the Christmas party

Shopper on high streetAs the festive season gets into full swing men and women across the country will be gearing up for the Christmas work party.

On average women spend £68.79 on a new outfit for the night with some splashing out more than £200 just for the evening, according to a new study.
Not only are women spending a lot of money, they're also spending around 12 hours preparing for the party – including browsing on the internet, shopping on the high street and getting ready on the night.

But in a time of austerity can anyone afford to spend this much time or money shopping? Surely there are better uses for our time?

The results

Women are shopaholics, or so the research from Lambrini would have us believe, and a quarter of us spend around three hours thinking about an outfit before hitting the shops. One in five of us will spend two whole days planning an outfit while 10% of us try on at least eight outfits before buying.

However, surveys like this need to be taken with a bucket of salt and if men were asked to take part in a similar survey I doubt the difference would be that great. Yes, whereas 24% may spend three hours thinking about their outfits before shopping 76% are using their time more wisely.

It's also hardly breaking news that women like shopping, but the survey, of 2,000 women across the UK also accuses 43% of women of "bailing out of the housework", while 22% forfeit exercise for the sake of getting ready for the Christmas party.

But instead of housework or exercise, which according to Lambrini is what women should be doing instead of party preparation, this time could instead be spent sorting out our finances and even making some extra money.

Instead of starting 2013 in debt, there are lots of easy ways to improve your finances and here are my top five.

1. Switching accounts
We talk about switching a lot on Lovemoney and that's because it's one of the easiest ways to cut down the amount you're spending on bills. Whether it's an energy company or your broadband provider, switching can almost always save you money.

The average amount saved for switching gas and electricity companies for example is £211. It's also cheaper to pay with paperless billing and by direct debit.

2. Clear your debt
If 2012 has been more about spending than saving, you probably have more money stacked on credit cards right now than in a savings account. Instead of burying your head in the sand and spending more, look over all your old accounts and work out exactly what you owe.

Expensive credit balances can be moved onto 0% cards – if you are accepted for the card - and if you're in real financial problems talk to a charity such as StepChange (formally CCCS) before resorting to payday loans.

3. Find your money
I first got a bank account when I was 10 and since then have had a lot of savings and current accounts from various providers. Using a free site like My Lost Account you can track down any old accounts and money registered in your name quickly and easily.

4. Keep track of your spending
Nearly all my purchases are made with card, so it can be easy to forget where I've been spending.

An app, such as the Lovemoney MoneyTrack, will keep an eye on all of this for you. Your spending and accounts are laid out in an easy-to-use format and you can keep track of the whole thing from your PC or smartphone.

5. Sell your stuff
Instead of being a hoarder, get rid of your unwanted goods by selling them through sites such as eBay or Gumtree. Before you do this check the fees as some will charge more than others and set a minimum price you'd be happy to see the item go for. This is a good way to de-clutter your house and make some extra money.
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