How you can save money this Christmas without being a Scrooge.

By Hayley Hemmings
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Like an empty Christmas cracker, the cost of Christmas can end up leaving both you & your finances feeling deflated.

Christmas, and the weeks leading up to it, often proves to be an expensive time of year for most. This year, the average Brit is expected to spend half their December pay packet on Christmas and everything that goes with it.

Those findings are part of a survey conducted by Nationwide, where nearly a fifth of Brits surveyed said that the cost of Christmas would leave them suffering financially for three months or more.

Let’s face it, it’s just so easy to get carried away with spending at Christmas time, when you factor in the whole gift-giving tradition. So just how are you supposed to survive Christmas season without it suffocating your finances – or worse, forcing you into debt? Preferably, without leaving you looking like a miserable old miser?

Take a look at these financially-savvy tips below…

1. Prioritise your gift list like you would the guest list at a small wedding

If you had a wedding guest list limited to just 10 people, you perhaps wouldn’t choose to invite your second cousin once removed, your boss or the nice lady from the shop down the road.

Decide who in your life you would really like to buy a gift for this Christmas – and keep the list small. If you have a million nephews and nieces that you usually buy for (and it usually leaves you broke), talk to their parents and be honest about the fact that you’re trying to save money this year. They probably won’t mind, because many parents believe their kids get given too much stuff anyway (seriously).

Make sure to let everyone know who you won’t be buying for and ask them not to buy for you. Some may object, but others will quite frankly be relieved at the thought of saving a little money themselves.

Most importantly – stick to the list of people that you’re buying for and don’t be swayed or distracted into buying for anyone else.  

2. Plan like a ninja before you shop

Santa sorts out pressies on Christmas Eve, but that doesn’t mean you need to. Going shopping on Christmas Eve in a panic is something that you’ll want to avoid, if possible.

Firstly, it’s just a horrible experience, having to battle your way through the crowds to find the perfect gift. Secondly, you might not be able to find the perfect gift in time, so you may have to resort to buying a less-worthy, yet more expensive gift.

So, planning ahead is the key to ensuring a financially-happy you, come January. Decide on what you want to buy the recipients on your gift list well in advance and set yourself a maximum budget.

According to this research from Bobatoo about Christmas spending habits in the UK, 48% of people surveyed said that they were planning to buy gifts for between 11 and 20 people.

Furthermore, the average amount to be spent on gifts at Christmas is reported to between £500 and £700, so you might want to bear this figure in mind when thinking about your own budget. If this figure is making you wince, an even more eye-watering fact is that that most people fail to stick to their budget!

3. Never pay full price!

Even though you should have a budget in mind, just imagine that you’re on The Apprentice and you’re taking part in the negotiation task. Your goal is simply to get the best discount possible – and never to pay the full price. Grabbing a bargain always feels great, to know more about how you can save all year round read this article.

However, if you’re not anticipating haggling over your Christmas gifts at Camden Market and you expect instead to get them from high street retailers, you might be wondering how you can do this.

Well, many high street retailers offer pre-Christmas sales, even after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So keep an eye on big online retailers like Amazon and big department stores.

Check out these links below in particular, where you might be able to bag a bargain or two:

Christmas Deals PredictorMoney Saving Expert has analysed deals over the last 6 years and studied this year’s trends to come up with some predictions of Christmas 2016 offers as and when they happen.

Amazon Daily Dealsthe deals on Amazon change like the weather, but if you check this page regularly, you might be able to grab a cheap Christmas gift!

Flubitif you know that the gift you want is from Amazon, see if you can get it via this website first – you could save up to 15% on the same product!

Zeeknever pay full price for gift vouchers again – this is a marketplace where you can buy (and sell) vouchers for cheaper than face value.

4. Earn cash for christmas before you spend

You could try to earn the money you’ll need for Christmas gifts in advance. That way, you can relax in the knowledge that Christmas won’t leave any sort of dint in your finances.

Some quick ways to make money for Christmas are:

- Sell things you don’t need on eBay or in local Facebook groups

- Sell baked goods (mince pies?) to friends or work colleagues

- Do surveys, competitions and use search engines that reward you e.g. Swagbucks

- House sitting

- Dog walking

- Seasonal part-time job e.g. at your local supermarket

5. Don’t get suckered into buying Christmas “tat”

If Christmas gifts aren’t enough to shell out for, there’s all the glittering merchandise and decorations on show, enticing you to spend. The fact is, if you already have a Christmas tree and trimmings, there’s no need to buy any other decorations if you’re trying to save money.

Wrapping paper, Christmas cards and gift tags are other little expenses that can soon add up. Why not buy wrapping paper and cards from shops like The Works, Home Bargains or Poundland instead of the more expensive stores. And you could use last year’s Christmas cards (if you’ve saved them) to make your own cut-out gift tags.

Top takeaway

Christmas is a time when it’s easy to get carried away with spending. But if you don’t want to start the New Year already pining for pay day, follow some of these tips above. Only buy for your closest friends and family and plan ahead well in advance, so that you have time to source some great deals.

What other ways can you think of to save at Christmas?

 

Author Bio: Hayley Hemmings is a freelance writer, blogger and tea addict from Yorkshire. She’s passionate about money matters, frugal living and loves anything handmade. When Hayley’s not writing, she’s most likely to be found enjoying snuggles with her little girl or walking her border collie through the beautiful Yorkshire countryside.  

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