Martin Lewis: Nine money saving tips for Christmas shopping
- Credit: MoneySavingExpert/Archant
While everything else has changed this year, one thing is still rock solid and steadfast – December 25 will still be Christmas day.
It’s one of the year’s big annual expenditures so everything you can do to lighten the load is positive.
Let me run through some key thoughts about keeping Christmas finances under control when things are stretched.
1. Let the finances rule, not the festivities.
Don’t sit there and design a lust list of how to have the best possible Christmas – for most people that just leads to debt or disappointment (more so likely this year).
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Instead first work out how much you’ve got to spend and ask what’s the best Christmas you can have within that budget.
2. Make a no-unnecessary present pact.
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Yes, it’s the season of goodwill but that doesn’t mean you need to turn Christmas into a retail festival, by buying unnecessary, often unwanted and unneeded gifts for friends and family because they bought you a gift.
That just adds to costs, stress and isn’t good for the environment.
It’s especially true this year when you’ll see less people to work out when you’re buying and when you’re not.
MORE: Caffe Nero on the brink of insolvency as it prepares to ask for rent cuts3. Earn free £125 in time for Christmas.
A few bank accounts pay you to switch to them, even better do it soon and you could get the money in time for Christmas.
Newbies to www.hsbc.co.uk can get a free £125 switching to its Advance account - to qualify, you need to open the account and start a switch, including 2+ direct debits/standing orders, within 30 days, and pay in a min £1,750/mth (equivalent to a min £25,600/yr salary going in).
The cash comes 30 days after the switch completes - so in time to help with the Christmas costs. For full eligibility see www.mse.me/topbankaccounts.
4. Give time not money.
Presents don’t have to equate to big bucks. Quite often loved ones prefer homemade personal gifts, like homemade jams or sweets, or even just giving your time (which is completely free).
You can go to www.mse.me/ChristmasGiftCheques where you can print out a promise to someone like giving a ‘massage’ (nudge, nudge) for your loved one, babysitting or letting the kids have a sleepover (when allowed). So, pledge to do something nice, not spend.
5. Little uns aren’t retails snobs.
You may feel obliged to buy expensive gifts for your children, and even feel guilty you haven’t spent enough.
But remember young children don’t value your gift based on price - they are often more interested in playing with the wrapping than the actual gift inside.
6. Set up a Christmas cupboard.
Work out now what you want to buy, then if you spot a bargain, you can pounce on it when there’s a code, voucher or discount that’s cheaper (ensure you get the weekly email at www.moneysavingexpert.com to tell you).
MORE: ‘Proper’ coffee and brunches on the menu at new independent café 7. Earn 5pc cashback on your Christmas shopping.
The no annual-fee www.americanexpress.com Everyday credit card pays 5pc cashback on your first three months’ spending (max £100), then up to 1% after. Get it now and this coincides with the high Christmas-period spend (cashback won’t be paid till a year later, and after you spend £3k+).
Ensure you set up a direct debit to repay in full each month to avoid the 22.9% rep APR.
8. Grab end of sale bargains for next Christmas.
Stores like John Lewis and M&S start to discount their giftwrap, Christmas cards, decorations and trees a week or so before Christmas.
So, if you need things for next Christmas, you may as well buy them when it’s discounted rather than full price next year.
Plus, Christmas veggies tend to go on sale the week of Christmas, so wait till then and you can get veggies from as little as 20p.
9. Raise cash to spend, rather than cash you’ve got.
Walk round the house, and see what you’ve not used in a year, then ask yourself if you should flog it.