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…

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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.

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