Christmas is coming and perhaps the goose is getting fat, but that doesn’t mean our wallets are! So MoneyPlus has done what we do best, talked to some moneysaving experts, scoured the web for some advice – and come up with ten top tips to help you manage your money leading up to the festive season.
1) Put a stop to unnecessary Christmas presents
Make a pact with extended family, friends and colleagues to not buy presents for each other this Christmas. After all, how many boxes of smellies, character socks and Christmas jumpers do we all need? At MoneyPlus, the majority of us stick to buying for our immediate loved ones, concentrating on the kids. Let’s face it, Christmas isn’t a retail festival – we all need to stop feeling obliged to giving to all and sundry!
2) Secret Santa helps cut costs
If you do want to buy for extended family or friends, why not consider a Secret Santa? This is where a group of people set a modest budget, then all throw their names into a hat, before secretly selecting the name of the person they’re to buy for. It’s great fun and this way you need only buy one present for the whole group!
3) Find the best prices on the web
Online prices differ from retailer to retailer, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out who is offering the best price at any given time. That’s why retail comparison websites like pricerunner.co.uk & kelkoo.co.uk do the legwork for you. Simply type in the item you’re looking for and, hey presto, the results will tell you the cheapest website to buy it from.
Also eBay is a good source for new or nearly new gifts, and whether it’s kid’s books, game consoles or anything else you’re looking for, many eBay sellers often specify items must be collected in person. This usually means fewer bids, so there are bargains to be had! Just search for an item on eBay, click ‘refine’ & then select ‘nearby’. You can then choose ‘local pickup’ to find items within easy distance for you.
4) Need extra Christmas cash? Flog it!
The stuff you no longer want or need could easily be turned into a few quid more in the Christmas fund. So, consider a car boot sale, or flog anything and everything on the likes of eBay, Gumtree, or through other local sales sites.
5) To gift card or to gift cash?
Gift cards seem like a good idea, and sometimes they are, but remember that they have their drawbacks. For one, even big retailers can go bust and when this happens and they go into administration, they usually stop accepting cards altogether. It’s also surprising how many gift cards get shoved in a drawer and forgotten about, aren’t redeemed by the expiry date, or are simply not from a shop that the person uses. According to Mail Online over £300 million of gift cards go unused each year. On the other hand, many card shops sell gift wallets that double as a Christmas cards, so you might want to consider putting the cash in one of these instead. Just a thought!
6) Remember, it’s the thought that counts!
Older kids may be brand savvy, but the little ones don’t value your gift based on name or price – they often seem more interested playing with the wrapping. So don’t shell out loads of dosh unnecessarily, spend your time finding a thoughtful gift that will make their eyes light up on Christmas morning.
7) Cashback? It’s a gift.
TopCashback & QuidCo are a couple of good examples of the cashback sites we’ve found, where you simply sign up for free, find the item you want, then click through to the retailer’s site to buy something. The cashback site gets paid for sending traffic to the retailer and gives some of this back to you, which means you could be quids in! Top tip: never let the cashback site dictate where you spend, just focus on the cheapest deal, then see if cashback is available.
8) Hear from Santa and track him on Christmas Eve for FREE!
Give your little ones a bit of magic this Christmas with a letter from Santa! Just send him their Christmas list, and include a stamped addressed envelope, and Santa and his elves will reply for free. Hurry though, the deadline is 6th December. Click here to get a letter from santa.
What’s more, you and your little ones can track Santa as he delivers his prezzies on Christmas Eve – how exciting is that? Log onto NoradSanta from 1 December and make sure you’re all set up to see how he’s getting on!
9) It’s good to talk – especially for FREE!
If you can’t be with your family or friends at Christmas, because they’re at the other end of the country or the other side of the world, it doesn’t mean you can’t talk for free. Save on expensive phone costs with free alternatives, such as Skype, and talk for free over the web. Most smartphones also let you download apps to do this via Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G.
Also, according to Money Saving Expert, calling overseas mobiles and landlines is usually cheaper if you use special numbers. Simply use their Call Checker to find the cheapest number for each country from landlines.
10) Start buying early and spread the cost!
According to YouGov, a typical family spends more than £820 on Christmas – that’s a whole wad of money to find in one go. Ok, we know it’s December, we’ve all seen those Christmas countdown messages on social media, but if you haven’t done so this year, start buying as early as possible next year to spread the cost.
It doesn’t matter if it’s just a couple of pounds a week or a good bit more that you’re spending, it will all add up and help take the stress out of paying for Christmas food, drink and gifts all in one go.
Also, why not pick up some bargains in the sales? Cards, wrapping paper, decorations and other festive-themed goods can be snapped up in the January sales at a fraction of pre-Christmas prices and put away until next year diflucan tablets buy online.
And, how about getting all members of the family into the habit of putting any loose change into a jar or piggy bank at the end of each day? You’ll be surprised how quickly it mounts up. By the time the summer sales come around in June, you’ll be in a good position to bag a few bargains!