Have a Merry Money-Saving Expat Christmas!

Christmas might be the season of good will, general jolliness and festive cheer, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s an expensive time of year.

From that first mince pie to that last scrap of wrapping paper, the costs can really add up and if you’re living overseas you may have additional outlays to consider, like funding trips back home and sending presents abroad.

If you want to avoid Janu-Fear (that horrible feeling that hits you in the first week of January when you realise just how much you’ve spent) follow some of our top tips for making your expat Christmas more affordable.

  1. Build up your Christmas-favourite stockpiles throughout the year

Every family has them, those Christmas food traditions that they can’t do without. Whether your family’s partial to giant boxes of Quality Streets, has to have Jacobs’s Crackers with their cheese or only enjoys the McVitie’s seasonal biscuit selection, sourcing these products overseas can be a headache. Also, when you factor in the typically inflated cost of imported goods they could set you back a lot more abroad then they do at home. The solution to this is to build up your stockpiles gradually over the course of the year (sell-by dates permitting). If you’re going back home for a visit, stick a couple of boxes of After Eights in your hand luggage. If friends or relatives are coming to stay, ask them to bring over some Bisto.

By buying the goods in your home nation and bringing them abroad you’ll get a better deal and spread the costs – just remember not to eat them before the big day or you could end up spending double!

  1. Send E-Cards

Stamps might not be one of the larger costs of Christmas time but if you’re abroad and have a lot of friends and family living far away, paying to get their Christmas cards to them could add up to more than you might expect.

Sending cards from Europe could set you back a pound a pop, and if you want the card tracked and signed it could cost you around £6.00 to send from countries like the US and Australia.

Furthermore, when sending cards from overseas you have to think about delivery times as well as costs, the last post for getting cards and packages varies from country to country so you’ll have to do a little research to make sure you don’t miss it!

If you want to save on the time and expense involved in sending Christmas cards overseas you could send E-Cards to computer-using family and friends. These can be highly personalised to include pictures and video messages, so you don’t have to think of them as being the less thoughtful option, and they won’t cost you a thing.

However, if you really can’t countenance the thought of sending virtual cards, consider organising your cards geographically and send all the ones bound for the same area in one package. Address it to a trusted friend and ask them to distribute your cards on your behalf!

  1. Take advantage of the delivery options offered by online retailers

Further to the point above, sending packages overseas can be expensive – but when ordering goods online look into the delivery options so you don’t end up spending out twice.

If an etailer has a UK outlet they will probably deliver to the nation at their standard delivery cost, particularly if ordering from their UK website. Many larger institutions (like Amazon) also give you the option of ticking a box to highlight when something’s a gift, so your recipient won’t know the price of the present. Some may even gift wrap it for you.

While it may not feel as special as buying, wrapping and sending your presents yourself, it could be considerably more cost-effective.

  1. Limit your Christmas list

While living overseas it’s also a good idea to trim down the list of people you send gifts to. Have a chat with family and friends far in advance and see if they’d be happy to suspend gift giving – after all sending presents overseas is stressful for both parties!

  1. Look into your Currency Transfer Options

If you’re living overseas, or have friends or relations who do, you may find that you need to make additional currency transfers in the run up to the festive season.

Whether you need to move money abroad to fund your Christmas shopping, pay for a trip to reunite you with loved ones or fork out for repairs to holiday homes bearing the brunt of winter weather, taking a little time to look into your currency transfer options could help you get more for your money.

Reputable currency brokers can better the exchange rates offered by banks by as much as 90% so you can enjoy significant savings. Many banks also charge between £10 and £40 to send money abroad, but leading brokers work on a fee-free basis, helping your money go further. Each transfer fee you save could pay for another present!

If you’ve got a larger currency transfer coming up, like funding a foreign property purchase for example, you could save thousands by using a currency broker. Other benefits of using a broker include having access to expert market insight and risk-management tools.

So those are our top tips for having a money-saving expat Christmas. If you’re spending the festive season abroad we hope your Christmas is a very merry one!

Find out more, Freephone: 0800 612 9625 International Calls: +44 (0)1736 335270


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Mother of three grown-up daughters I am the ultimate multi-tasker and am passionate about my role as Silversurfers Website Editor and Social Media Manager. Always on the lookout for all things that will interest and entertain our community. Fueling fun for the young at heart!

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