Now that November is here, retail shops around the country are getting ready for Christmas.
From ornate displays to the occasional holiday song in the background, it’s a not-so-subtle reminder that Christmas is coming sooner than we think. And while it might feel a little too early to put up the tree, now is actually the perfect time to start saving.
Holidays are expensive, but they don’t have to break the bank if you plan ahead and use a few clever tricks to keep the spending down. Here are a few of our favourites…
Make the most of vouchers
This time of year is the time to make the most of great deals, and in the weeks before Christmas many retailers will offer discounts and special vouchers to help you keep your spend down. If you’re a member of any loyalty programs like Tesco Clubcard or Boots Advantage, now is the time to cash in those points to cover the cost of gifts and food you’ll need over the holidays.
And don’t forget about coupon sites like Groupon, either – there are plenty of offers for special experiences, meals, and items that would make excellent gifts but cost a fraction of the price.
Food becomes a big expense over the Christmas holidays as family, friends and neighbours get together for parties or sit down for a special meal. If you’re in charge of the menu, consider switching supermarkets – budget grocery stores like Aldi and Lidl have a huge selection of holiday food that consistently rates as well as M&S or Waitrose in blind taste tests. Both stores also offer up plenty of pre-made frozen party foods you can serve up without hassle when you need to feed a big crowd on a little budget.
With the help of the internet, shopping around is a whole lot easier. If you have a specific gift in mind, before you buy do a quick search to see if you’re getting the best price. And don’t forget eBay – many people will sell new or lightly used items they don’t need or want anymore, and it could be an opportunity to get an expensive item a lot cheaper. Likewise, if you’re looking to free up some extra cash, you could do the same by listing some items you no longer want and using the money you made towards any Christmas expenses.
Make it personal
Focus on the gesture, not the pricetag. Instead of spending a small fortune on presents for your family and friends, why not look for an opportunity to find a thoughtful gift instead. You can use your own unique talents to make gifts yourself, like baking or knitting for example. Even something as simple as a book can be made much more special by writing an inscription in the cover about the receiver and why you hope they’ll enjoy reading it as much as you did.
Celebrate after Christmas
This is a particularly good trick if you have a big family and plan a large gathering around the holidays each year. Instead of planning a celebration on or before Christmas Day, push it back a few days – you can buy your gifts in the boxing day sales and benefit from huge discounts on holiday items like decorations and food that were full price just a few days before.
Make a list
Santa famously makes a list and then checks it twice, and so should you. Well ahead of the holiday season, sit down and make a list of everything you need to get through the Christmas period. From gifts to holiday party outfits to your Christmas dinner menu, write it all down. Once that’s finished you can look for places on the list you can cut back – for example, repurposing the dress you wore to a wedding last year rather than buying something new – and take the list with you when you do your Christmas shopping. If it’s not on the list, then you don’t need it – it’s a simple trick but can be very effective to help you guard against those last minute impulse purchases when panic buying at the shops.
How do you save money on Christmas expenses?