With two weeks to go and the shops now full to bursting with mince pies, booze, chocolate and sweets - the countdown to 'the most wonderful time of the year' is now in full swing.
But whilst it’s an exciting run up for some, Christmas can also be a very expensive time for most. Getting organised for when the holiday season finally arrives really is the secret to a Merry Christmas, so here are our top money saving-tips to ensure you’re ready and prepped to enjoy the festivities:
1. £2 piggy bank
Each time you receive a £2 coin back in change after making a purchase, put it into a £2 piggy bank. Whilst it doesn’t sound like much, do this 10 times and that’s £20 already put by with minimal effort. If you think you might be tempted to dip into your funds, use a traditional-style piggy bank that can only be opened by breaking it. It’ll also provide added excitement when you finally come to smash your piggy bank and count the profits!
2. The change pot
If you’ve mastered the £2 piggy bank, why not crank things up a gear and start a change pot. Every time you buy something in cash using a note, any loose change needs to go straight into the pot; sometimes it may only be a few pence, other times it might be several pounds, it all adds up. It’ll also prevent any small but unnecessary purchases that we’re all guilty of when we have a pocket full of change.
3. Take advantage of the January sales
Whilst it’s too late for this Christmas, get a head start for next year’s holiday season by buying your decorations, wrapping paper, crackers, and cards in the sales on Boxing Day. They’ll be much cheaper and, whilst everyone else is rushing to stock up in time when the holidays arrive, you can sit back, put your feet up with a mince pie or two and avoid the chaos - as long as you remember you’ve already got it covered!.
4. Go dutch for Christmas dinner
If it’s your turn to host Christmas dinner this year, assign each guest with a particular dish or accompaniment that they must bring to the table - literally. For example, one guest could be responsible for roast potatoes, whilst you could ask another guest to bring a dessert. Not only will this help towards the cost, but it will also alleviate some of the pressure in the kitchen, leaving you more time to spend with your loved ones on Christmas Day.
5. Be prepared for socialising expenses
Christmas is a time for giving, but it’s not just the presents under the tree that can cost a pretty penny - the additional food, drink and social events soon add up, not to mention all the new party outfits which may be needed.
Last year, a survey conducted by Quiz Clothing revealed that the average Christmas party outfit cost women £91.50, that’s without additional party preparations such as hair appointments and new makeup. Don’t let poorly planned funds spoil your festive fun; when drawing up your Christmas budget, be sure to set aside a fund for Christmas meetups, drinks and meals out.
6. Embrace the digital age with Christmas e-cards, or get organised early
Stamps are shockingly expensive. At 67p each, sending just 20 Christmas cards via first-class post will cost you over £13 in stamps alone. Christmas e-cards are a fun, modern way to send season’s greetings. There are thousands of free templates to choose from online, many of which can be personalised to make your message all the more memorable.
If you still prefer to send a traditional Christmas card in the post, get organised and send them earlier with second class stamps to cut back on postage costs (you’ll already have your Christmas cards ready from the January sales!). Or, if you have several friends and family members that live close together, you could send several cards in one larger envelope to one address so they can distributed in person at the other end - it’ll still cost you more than the cost of one stamp, but will be far cheaper.
7. Have a clear out: Resell old toys and clothes
Resist the temptation to just throw out unwanted gifts and clothes. Instead, sell them on social media marketplaces and community websites. Buyers on these platforms are usually local, and happy to collect in person, therefore eliminating any delivery costs.
It’s important to get your timing right in order to maximise your return. Consider whether the items you are selling are seasonal, for example, outdoor games and furniture are best sold at the start of the summer season when people will be spending more time in their gardens. On the other hand, items such as children’s bikes or games consoles would make great Christmas presents for other children, so aim to sell these in late November to early December; people will often pay more for the right present so you’re likely to get higher bidders at this time of year too.
8. Get crafty with DIY gifts
Let your creative juices flow this Christmas and try your hand at making some homemade gifts for family and friends, for example gingerbread biscuits, scented teacup candles, or some tasty chutneys to accompany your Christmas Day cheese board. There are so many forums and groups - both online and offline - just brimming with craft ideas and inspiration, you’ll be spoilt for choice. It’ll be a fun, festive activity and may just mean a lot more to the recipient than the usual, high-street gift.
9. Consider a Christmas Savings Account
To ensure you’re not limited to eating baked beans for the whole of January, you may like to consider going one step further and opening a Christmas Savings Account.
Our Christmas Saver is instant access between 1 October to 31 December each year - all the better for when you need to get your hands on the cash nearer to Christmas. For the rest of the year withdrawals are subject to 30 days' notice or interest penalty. The maximum balance is £2,000 - which, depending on your budget, should go a long way towards helping with the cost of Christmas!
By planning ahead and incorporating some money-saving techniques into your daily routine, not only will you feel more relaxed during the festive season, you’ll also enter the New Year in positive spirits with healthy finances.