The days are getting shorter, the nights are drawing in and thoughts have turned to preparing for Christmas.
Each year we put ourselves under enormous pressure to buy more and more expensive presents, trying to outdo one another. And each year the list of presents grows and grows.
Add to this the fact that we buy enough food to feed an army, the stress of shopping in crowded stores pushing and shoving to get round, and it’s little wonder that it’s a time of year we also dread.
Where will all the money come from?
There are ways to save money and still have a wonderful time…
- Always remember Martin Lewis’ all-important money mantra when buying: If you’re skint, ask yourself do you need it and can you afford it; if you aren’t skint, will you use it and is it worth it? If you answer no to any of these, don’t buy it!
- Make a list of the presents you need to buy for family and friends, agree a price limit per present and stick to it. You might want to mention this to family as well. I am sure they will also be suffering the same pressures as you.
- Make a list of food and drinks required and resist the urge to buy extra. More often than not you don’t need it and could save yourself money. Beware of tempting packaging, “special offers” and 3-for-2s. You know these are all attempts to get you to spend more!
- Look at what you really need for the Christmas/New Year period. When I was younger I would shop for England and have enough food to last for two months, but all with the best before date of next week! Nowadays I buy my Christmas Day and Boxing Day food then go back to normal meals after that, to avoid excessive eating and drinking and spending too much.
- If you want presents like electrical goods, then perhaps wait until the after-Christmas sales. These can be a great way of saving you money.
- Try baking your own mince pies and sausage rolls, or make your own stuffing. They are tastier than shop-bought products and can save you money.
- Buy stamps at local supermarkets and save your loyalty card and mileage points. Use these towards your Christmas costs. They can add up to a tidy sum!
- Look on the internet for good deals. Even if you have to pay the postage it saves you traipsing round the shops. Also check out online voucher and discount code sites and use comparison websites to ensure you’re getting the best deals. Places like MoneySavingExpert are a good place to start.
- Do you have an artistic flair? Then how about making your own gifts? You can make things like chocolates, sweets, chutneys and jams, Christmas biscuits and cakes, or decorate photo frames. These activities are great to do with the children as well. Try wikihow to help get you started.
- Make your own Christmas cards and gift tags – they are more special when homemade. Making the tags is so easy – just save last year’s cards and cut out little pictures. There are many kits around to make your own cards.
- Shop at outlet villages or factory shops, or stores like TK Maxx where you get quality goods at knock-down prices.
- Check you’re claiming all the benefits you’re entitled to. This could help increase your income and ease the pressure on your purse.
- Sell any items you no longer use to raise money for gifts and shopping.
- And finally, avoid using credit where possible. Credit and store cards have very high interest rates and it’s easy to lose track of what you have spent on them until your statements come in January. It’s easy to get into debt but so much harder to get out of it. If you do run up debt then act straight away by contacting us.
I hope this has given you enough food for thought this Christmas; I’m sure that you all have your own great ideas too. We’d love to hear your money-saving Christmas tips!
Don’t forget to check out our priceless promise certificate if you’ve been inspired by Marilyn’s tip to offer a service as a gift.