It’s that time of year again when we all start thinking about Christmas! As much as I love Christmas, the downside can be the expense of it all! The good thing however is there are still lots of ways to spend less money. I find Christmas to be a good money saving exercise and so here are my simple tips on how to save money this Christmas.
Step 1 – Write down a list of all Christmas expenses.
It’s easy to forget about all the extra costs Christmas brings. Therefore it can be a good idea to list all Christmas related expenses such as;
Food – e.g Christmas dinner ingredients, desserts, drinks, alcohol, snacks for guests?
Presents – Who do you need to buy for?
Christmas Decorations – e.g a Christmas Tree, need new baubles?
Days out – Got any Christmas themed trips planned?
Of course some of these costs are aren’t essential but it can be useful to work out what you do and don’t need to spend money on this Christmas.
As well as simply using pen and paper to record expenses I also like to use an app. I use the simple Gift List one which allows me to keep track of what I’ve bought and need to buy and how much each present costs.
Step 2 – Money
Even the most frugal of us will end up spending money on Christmas. After recording a list of the costs of Christmas you should have a rough idea of how much money to budget for. Now is a good time also to think about any ways you can save money. Perhaps there are some adults you would normally buy for that you could agree you don’t buy presents for each other? If you are hosting Christmas dinner could you ask guests to bring round some dishes/foods/drinks enabling you to spend less?
The most important question to as is where will this extra money come from? Everybody’s circumstances are different, some won’t need to budget beforehand for Christmas whilst some will need to plan there finances in advance. Setting aside a small amount of money each month starting at the beginning of the year is one way to have a savings pot by Christmas.
One of the ways I create savings for Christmas is by using a cashback site such as TopCashBack or Quidco. I use these cashback sites throughout the year for my purchases and then by December I usually have a good amount I can withdraw that I can use to buy presents. You can receive money directly to your bank account or opt for Amazon or other vouchers.
Another thing I do is save all my coppers and 5ps in a jar and then cash them in every Christmas. I use them for our Christmas food shop and so a few days before Christmas I will take them to the supermarket and empty the jar into one of those coin machines. You then get a voucher for the total amount which I then use towards our shopping.
There are also plenty of ways to make a little extra cash for Christmas. Whether its from Survey sites, smart phone ‘mystery shopping’ apps or matched betting, there are lots of opportunities to add to your Christmas savings. I like to receive any money I earn as Amazon Vouchers when possible as I buy most my gifts from Amazon and it feels like your getting something for free when you use a voucher!
Step 3- Shopping
One of my favourite things about Christmas is shopping for presents! I usually start my present planning in September/October and then start buying. In previous years I would pick up any gifts I saw on offer earlier in the year however I found I would either forget what I bought or in the case of my daughter, she would no longer be interested in what I had bought – kids change there mind so quick! Therefore I now wait until October at the earliest and nowadays there’s so many deals and offers in the run up to Christmas there is no need to start any earlier. Some of the good Retailer deals to look out for are;
Argos 3 for 2 (usually end of September and beginning of November)
Sainsburys Toy Sale (Usually mid October)
Black Friday/ Cyber Money (24th Nov this year) – Amazon and John Lewis particularly.
To be alerted to any bargains and deals then it can also be a good idea to follow Facebook pages dedicated to sharing items on offer, such as PlayPennies and Hotukdeals.
Another way to reduce spending money on shopping is by using loyalty points. Some of the best ones include Boots, Sainsburys/Nectar and Tesco Clubcard. Use these cards throughout the year for your purchases and by Christmas you might have accumulated points that can be used to pay for shopping or for vouchers.
Gifts don’t have to be of the bought variety but can also be handmade. There are lots of gifts you can make yourself for very little money just have a look on Pinterest for ideas!
Step 4 – Days out and Activities
Another thing I love about Christmas is all the Christmas themed activities and outings available. Whilst many such events are free or cost a small amount the amount spent on days out can soon add up or some can actually be quite pricey. I find it a good idea to see what’s on in my area and make a note of what we fancy doing and how much they cost.. One way to find discounted tickets for events is by looking on Groupon as they often have deals for days out.
Whilst Christmas can most definitely be an expensive time of year for many of us try not to panic! There are lots of easy ways to save money this Christmas and still have an amazing Christmas even on a budget.