Cash advice: 10 ways to save this Christmas
The average UK household spends more than £700 on Christmas with a fifth of us using a credit card to pay for at least part of the seasonal splurge. Avoid a festive financial hangover with tips from the Financially Fabulous money team…
6 GET CASHBACK Sign up to a cashback scheme, such as TopCashback or Quidco, to get money back on Christmas shopping ( you can collect cashback on shopping all year round, too). Or apply for a cashback credit card to put a percentage of your spending back on to your card as you shop. Just remember to pay the balance off in good time, so you don’t pay interest that could wipe out the rewards. 1 EDIT YOUR GIFT LIST Does the number of people you buy for increase each year while your budget stays the same? If so, have an honest chat with family and friends well in advance of the Christmas shopping frenzy. Don’t be shy about suggesting a price limit on gifts – it will probably result in relief all-round. You might agree only to buy gifts for children, buy one gift per family or even set up a secret Santa. 2 BUDGETBUSTING If you don’t have a budget then you will overspend, so make it a priority. Use the Christmas Money Planner at moneyadviceservice.org. uk to help set a realistic Christmas budget. The tool will ask you to estimate what you will spend on food and drink, presents and going out. It then tells you whether or not you need to rein in your planned spending based on how much you have in the bank for the cost of Christmas and how much you can save in the run-up to the festivities. 7 SPEND REWARD CARD POINTS Now is the time to spend the points you’ve collected on reward cards such as Nectar, Boots Advantage and Tesco Clubcard. Use them to buy gifts or reduce the Christmas food bill. Don’t forget to look out for bonus points offers to start building up points ready to cash in for next Christmas, too! 8 USE GIFT CARDS Unspent gift cards can be used towards buying presents. Each year, as much as £300 million is left unused on gift cards, according to the UK Gift Card & Voucher Association. Remember that gift cards often expire after a year and if the retailer goes bust, they may not be valid.
3 COMPARE PRICES Once you’ve set a budget, use a comparison website such as PriceRunner or PriceSpy to track down the best prices on gifts online. Don’t forget to check delivery costs before you place an order to make sure you really are getting the best deal. 4 BLACK FRIDAY DEALS Put your Christmas shopping on hold until Black Friday (23 November) to take advantage of the best pre-Christmas offers. Look out for early deals in the run-up to the discount bonanza, too. Always do your research to make sure what you are buying is actually a ‘deal’ by searching the item at various retailers. 5 TRACK YOUR SPENDING Use an app such as Yolt to see the balance of your current accounts, savings accounts and credit cards in one place. The app can set budgets and sort transactions into categories such as Shopping, Eating Out or Groceries for a break-down of your spending. You can tag individual transactions with #ChristmasGifts to help you keep track. 9 PLAN AHEAD Plan your online shopping carefully. If you place one large order for several gifts from the same retailer (instead of buying one or two gifts at a time), you’re more likely to meet the minimum spend to qualify for free delivery. Or check if there’s a Click & Collect option so you can pick up your order from a local store to avoid delivery charges. 10 CUT THE COST OF POSTAGE Sending Christmas cards by second class post at 58p shaves 9p off each card compared to first class. It may not sound like a lot, but it all adds up. Just post second class mail by Tuesday 18 December to arrive in time for Christmas. Check the price of sending parcels using couriers such as myHermes, ParcelHero, Interparcel or CollectPlus – it may be cheaper than Royal Mail.