Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Christmas is Coming! Act Now to Spread the cost!

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The cost of Christmas can be a lot, too much for December's pay alone to cope with, but it's not too late to save money and cut the cost of Christmas.

  • Start saving NOW - Never write a wish list of everything you want for Christmas. Work out what you can afford to put aside in September, October, November and December and work out how much you will have.
  • Spend what you can afford - Too many try to do everything at Christmas, buy all the must-have gadgets, gifts for everyone and a banquet meal and then spend the rest of the year trying to pay for it all only to go into debt again the following Christmas. Instead work out how much you can save in time for Christmas and how much you can afford and stick to it. Christmas is just one day, don't ruin the next year trying to pay it all off.
  • Try some DemoHoHotivation - Moneysavingexpert has a wonderful little tool known as the demohohotivator which shows how small sacrifices can save you money. For example I go to the cafe with my friends, once or twice a week whilst my 3yr old is in school for 2hrs, and I buy a mug of tea and a toasted teacake which costs about £4. If I gave this up, I would save £118 between now and Christmas! Try this tool and see how much you could save on coffees, snacks, cigarettes, magazines and other non-essentials by giving them up between now and Christmas!
  • Ban unnecessary Christmas presents - Christmas guilt is one of the retail stores joys of Christmas. You might enjoy giving presents to all your friends, extended family and work colleagues but it often causes guilt in the other person as they feel they have to give you a gift back, which they (or you) might not be able to afford. Why not suggest Secret Santa gifts instead, where you only have to buy one gift instead of 10 and can be a lot more fun!
  • Save money on your grocery shopping - At Christmas we often assume that we need the best, and that this goes for food as well, and we head to the supermarkets for branded food. Yet don't automatically assume that the costlier branded food is best. Try some of the cheaper food and use your taste-buds to judge instead of your eyes and buy what is best for you. If you're planning a large shop, go to MySupermarket and it'll compare the cost of goods at the big online supermarkets Even if you cannot get home delivery (like I can't) then the prices are similar in-store and it'll help you find the best bargains for your Christmas cupboard.
  • Use the internet to save money. 1: Use shopping comparison sites which can help find the cheapest prices for whatever you want to buy. Megashopbot is the best one as searches several shopping comparison websites but don't forget buying locally can also be cheap (as you won't pay postage) and you might even find something unique instead. 2: Amazon Discount Finder is a great tool which could help you find secret 75% and more hidden bargains. 3: Map hidden local eBay deals with free tools and smartphone apps using the moneysavingexpert guide. Keep an eye out for Photo Book and Canvas Codes for special offers and discounts.
  • When you buy something online, check first whether you can earn cashback with a cashback website such as Topcashback or Quidco. These sites are easy to use and free to join and you can easily earn quite a bit of money. All you do is go to through their sites to the online store you were going to use anyway. They are paid an advertising fee for sharing their site, which they pass onto you. Payments depend on how much you spend. However, never let the amount of cashback dictate where or what you buy as you can sometimes find the item cheaper somewhere else so check using a price comparison website first.
  • Try creating special homemade gifts which only cost a little to make but which are full of love. There's plenty of easy step-by-step guides on the web, for anything you could think of making. What about creating IOU vouchers using your computer to create offers for friends and family such as free babysitting, lunch at your house etc for your friends to use during the coming year. Or what about a date night package for someone you love, from a picnic in the park to a candlelit bubble bath or even a back rub or foot massage.
  • Go through children's toys and all your old cupboards and see what gems you could unearth. Sell all your outgrown clothes or toys that are no longer played with using facebook for sale groups or on eBay to try and boost your Christmas savings account.
  • Don't use your Tesco clubcard vouchers for festive food. A £10 voucher is worth just £10 in-store. Yet you can triple its value (so £10 becomes £30) on the Tesco rewards website on certain gift items such as jewellery. Or you can use it's in-store "double-up" scheme to get 2x value which they often host. Last year we doubled-up our £50 of Tesco vouchers to use on toys and got £100 worth of toys for free. If you are a member of their Christmas Saver Scheme (where you save up all your clubcard vouchers through the year and receive them in November) you can also top-up your clubcard points by adding money to your clubcard whilst shopping, just ask your cashier next time you're shopping. Don't forget you can also check on their website to see if you have any unclaimed vouchers. 
  • Set up a Christmas cupboard and keep an eye out for discounts. Be a tactical Christmas shopper, decide what you want, make a list, get a Christmas cupboard ready to put stuff in and then wait until you see what you want is on offer. Just make sure you don't raid the cupboard before Christmas! 
  • Young children don't value their gifts by how much you spent on it and are often quite happy to play with the boxes and wrapping paper than the actual present! One fun present which doesn't cost a lot could be a balloon box, just fill a huge box with blown-up balloons and then wrap it. One of my favourite presents when I was a teenager was from my aunt, she knew I loved the colour purple so she got a big box and filled it with everything she could find that was purple; soap, toothbrush, hairbrush, nail brush etc. It was like diving into a treasure box as I never knew what I was going to find next!
  • Supermarket saving schemes encourage year-long saving for Christmas, but there's a loophole which allows you to get a years bonus in just one day! Most stores pay it depending on how much you've saved by a specific day, so save it in a top savings account in a bank first, then the day before the bonus is paid (check with the specific store for the date) withdraw the cash and fill up the savings card with stamps to be spent in that store.
  • If you're buying an expensive gift which costs over £100, ALWAYS pay by credit card. This gives you extra protection (section 75 laws) should the firm go bust and the goods go faulty or don't appear, as your credit card provider is jointly liable for the whole amount and you can claim through them. 
  • When you buy a gift for someone ask the store for a gift receipt or get them to write on your receipt and their copy that it's a gift and who it's for. The reason for this is that legally only the person who bought the gift has any rights and the recipient cannot exchange, by writing on the receipt or getting a gift one, the rights are then transferred.
  • Sometimes it can be worth delaying Christmas a little. If you want to get a really big expensive item, like a TV or games console, then give the kids a nicely wrapped IOU telling them that you're waiting for the January sales to get the item cheaper.
This is NOT a sponsored post, I haven't been asked or paid to write this post, I just wanted to share tip and tricks to help slash the cost of Christmas. A big THANK YOU goes to Martin Lewis and Moneysavingexpert for the information contained in this guide. 

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