Apologies for mentioning the ‘C’ word however most of us only have two payday’s left!! As a self-confessed Christmas fanatic I thought I would share my top tips for saving in the run up to the big day and avoiding those huge bills in January
Make a list
Write a list of all the people you buy gifts for and then set a budget for each person and stick to it! Also consider if you NEED to buy gifts for everyone on your list – my friends and I decided a few years ago to only buy for the kids as it was becoming expensive buying for friend’s, partners and children and after all Christmas is all about the kids !
Have an idea!
Along with a budget it’s a great idea to jot down ideas for gifts you want to purchase for each person – this way you can keep an eye out for them at a bargain price! Also by having an idea of what you want to buy it helps to avoid overbuying!
Never too early!
It is NEVER too early to start picking up items from your list if you can afford to as it helps to spread the cost. I am always on the lookout for bargain and sale items that I know family and friends would like and if I can afford to I pick them up and pop them away (this includes Birthday’s not just Christmas). It is important to remember though that just because it is cheap doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bargain – only buy it if the person you are considering purchasing it for will LOVE it and use it!
Supermarket savings schemes
Most of the supermarkets offer a Christmas savings scheme and there is still plenty of time to benefit from joining. I have detailed some of the most popular below:
Asda – Asda’s Christmas savings cards are available from the customer services desk in store and can be topped up at the till when purchasing your shopping. They offer a bonus top up in November if your savings have reached a certain level. Save £49 and receive £1 bonus, save £97 and receive £3 bonus or save £144 and receive £6 bonus. There is no limit on the number of cards you can have.
Morrison’s – They also offer a savings club that can be joined online or in store and offer a bonus – Save £49 and receive £1 bonus or save £97 and receive £3. Also if you have a MORE card you can opt to save your £5 bonus vouchers so that you receive them together in time for your Christmas shop.
Iceland – Iceland’s bonus card can be topped up at the checkout at any time and you will receive a £1 bonus for every £20 you save.
Tesco – If you have a Clubcard you can opt to have your Clubcard vouchers to be sent only at Christmas so that you have a decent amount to spend. Also you can top up your card with anything from 50p-£360 and there are different levels of bonus depending on how much you save – from £1.50-12 – these will be sent as vouchers with your club card ones in time for Christmas.
Whilst there isn’t long left to save this way every little helps, plus once you get used to saving regularly in this it will become habit and you will be way ahead for next year!
If you are saving cash it is often tempting to dip into it for other things so if you know which shops you will be using when making Christmas purchases it is a good idea to buy a gift vouchers instead – as and when you can afford to. Most supermarkets sell a massive range of gift vouchers and I have found in the past few years that nearer to Christmas a few of them have offered up to 20% off selected gift vouchers so it’s worth shopping about.
Skimming is a great way of saving money without really missing it! For those who aren’t familiar with skimming it is the process of rounding your bank account balance down. To do it properly I would recommend opening a basic online account with your bank to transfer the money into. How regularly you skim will depend on how often you use your current account however to maximise your savings I would recommend doing it a couple of times a week. I have added an example below:
Current account balance= £128.25
Transfer -£8.25 into your additional account
Depending on your finances you may just round down to the nearest £5 so would transfer £3.25.
The money will soon add up if you are able to skim regularly, however make sure that you can afford to do it or you will find yourself dipping into what you have saved and this will defeat the object.
Facebook is full of bargain hunting pages that do all the leg work for you! They often flag up the best deals on popular items or point you in the right direction of a special offer so it is well worth liking some pages as you may find something on your list popping up!
My favourite pages are:
Amazon Wish List
Amazon wish list is a great way to seek out bargains on the items you are looking for. By adding them to your wish list you are able to regularly check back on the pricing of items – these can change daily and sometimes more often. The list will tell you the price the item was when you added it to your list and if the price has dropped it will tell you by what percentage. I often use this method for items that I consider to be overpriced for what they are and I set myself a price I would be happy pay so that if it drops to that or below I will purchase.
EBay clearance stores
Many big retailers have clearance stores on eBay which offer goods at a highly discounted price and are always worth checking to see what they have on offer.
My favourite are:
When I became a Stay at home Mum I discovered surveys. If you have some spare time in the evenings or weekends surveys can really help swell the Christmas funds. I have included my favourite survey sites below:
One Poll – When signing up you receive a bonus of £2.50 and can earn anything from 10p to £2 per survey depending on topic and length. It takes a while for this one to pay out as you have to reach £40 however I find that the number of surveys offered is high.
Opinion Outpost – This site offers you surveys ranging in value but you can exchange once you reach £2.50. You can swap your earnings for cash, Amazon or iTunes vouchers.
My Survey UK – This site is fantastic as surveys are offered regularly and therefore your total goes up much quicker. Your earnings can be exchanged for loads of different things including cash, nectar points and PayPal funds as well as vouchers for M&S and Debenhams.
Nectar surveys – You must have a nectar card to join this site and if you don’t have one I highly recommend signing up – even if you don’t shop at Sainsbury’s! Surveys are rewarded with nectar points and they add up so quickly with surveys ranging from 10-250 points each. They automatically get added onto your nectar card so no need to wait to cash out. Points can be spent at many retailers and restaurants. Last year I managed to save enough points this way to get my son a Kids Kindle for free!
Another great way to save throughout the year is to use companies like Park who I personally use. Whist I find their food hampers and toys quite expensive, when you order vouchers and pay throughout the year you only pay for the value of the vouchers ordered . The earlier you start paying into these types of savings the lower your weekly or monthly payments will be.
Also don’t forget the January sales are full of bargains that can be snapped up for Birthdays or the following Christmas. Remember it’s NEVER too early to start planning!