You might be thinking it’s too early to be talking about Christmas. But from September onwards it’s worth remembering that you only have three paydays remaining (six if you’re paid every two weeks). So with this in mind here are some tips on saving money and getting ready for the festivities.
Regardless of how disciplined you are it can be hard to keep spending to a minimum. It’s always worth budgeting and putting money aside to cover presents, parties and heating bills which come with the holiday season. As an extra tip start looking for the bargains and offers now as this will pay off when it comes to December.
Start to stockpile alcohol and other gifts
While there may be offers in the run up to Christmas you can be a little bit smarter and look out for these bargains throughout the year. Stockpile gifts in time for Christmas so you don’t have to spend in one go during November or December. If you have friends or family members who enjoy alcohol then this could save money at the end of the year – providing you don’t drink it all.
Go dry for 30 days before Christmas to save money
For some families the consumption of alcohol increases during December and subsides in January. As an idea you could try going dry for a month coming up to Christmas to save a few pounds. While some people may use the ‘Stoptober’ campaign to give up smoking you could stop drinking to help you save money.
What could you save if you stopped drinking for 30 days?
One £5 bottle of wine each week could save £20.
One £10 multipack of beer which lasts 2 weeks could save £20.
Even if you stop drinking for two weeks you could still save enough for a turkey, bottle of brandy or even an Amazon voucher.
Use your Nectar, Clubcard or Match and More points from the year
If you shop at any of the supermarkets that operate a loyalty scheme it may be worth cashing the points in during Christmas to ease the burden on your wallet. If it’s just £20 you manage to save this could pay for a taxi ride or a present for a loved one during the festive period. Some stores may even give you the chance to double up your points in the run up to Christmas – so keep your eye open for offers.
Switch to Aldi or Lidl
If you’ve not already done it by now then you really should. Even if you just make one of your monthly shopping trips to Aldi or Lidl you’ll instantly see the savings. Even for fresh produce or Christmas dinner trimmings it’s definitely worth a visit.
Secret Santa for friends, kids or the office.
If you have a large group of friends or family whose kids you have to buy for it may be worth doing this through a secret Santa arrangement. Rather than buying for a whole group of friends or their children it will save money, and a whole load of time, if you just buy for one. It may even be worth reviewing your Christmas list and agree who you will and won’t buy presents for – which in turn may reduce how much you spend on people.
Don’t shop on Black Friday in store
You may have seen crazy headline discounts which appear too good to be true as part of a Black Friday sale (such as a new flatscreen TV being reduced by 70%). But what you may not see is that prices can be artificially inflated or kept at an RRP which is not really reflective of the product. So while the discount may seem big, ask yourself if the product on offer is actually worth the headline price.
The infamous 32” Blaupunkt TV being sold in Tesco during 2014’s Black Friday had an RRP in some places of £199. For this money you could also get a decent brand Samsung or LG television for roughly the same price. So beware of inflated prices before you buy.
The original ploy around Black Friday is to get people hooked on a headline offer so they come in to a store. And once you’re in the shop you’re more likely to buy something, even if it might just be a tin of soup – so don’t get sucked in.
The best advice we can give, if in doubt, is to research the product on the internet or elsewhere. Good places to start include Amazon, Google or an Argos catalogue which will normally have a range of products from cheap to well known brands.
Buying on credit
If you choose to buy anything on credit for Christmas make sure that you consider the total costs and terms of any agreement that you enter in to. Before you sign anything do your maths and make sure that you are aware of the total repayment and ongoing payments as well as making sure that your finances can cope with the added expenditure.
Sell your unwanted gifts
While it may not be what everyone wants to hear, selling or re-packaging unwanted gifts can also raise or save some extra cash. There are plenty of ways to sell pretty much anything online so don’t discard any unwanted gifts too soon.
Check the auction sites after Christmas for cheap gifts
Take advantage of people who have received gifts, such as vouchers or otherwise, and want to sell them on. In this instance you could pay second hand prices for nearly new products.
Get the sale prices early
Some stores start to apply Boxing day sale prices a day or so earlier before Christmas day. Have a quick look around in case you manage to bag a bargain. Alternatively shopping online during Christmas day will save the hassle of trekking through a busy Next sale on Boxing Day.
Buy Christmas presents in the sales
A possible money saver could involve agreeing to shop with friends or family in the post Christmas sales for a present – which could make your money go further if you bag a discount or two.
Buy in January
This piece of advice may be a bit late for this Christmas though still useful. Buying products in January, with the price of wrapping paper and crackers usually being slashed, can save a few pounds when the following Christmas comes around. Just store them carefully and don’t forget about them when December arrives.