Would you like to save money at Christmas? Who wouldn’t?!
We certainly need to as, according to Nationwide, on average we will each spend half a month’s salary on Christmas – half a month! And one in seven of us will take at least three months to pay off our Christmas debts.
What’s the point of that?
We want you to have a good Christmas without putting yourself into terrible debt for January. So here are 12 sneaky money saving tips for Christmas to make you look generous, but still keep the cash in your pocket!
- Set a budget and stick to it
- Give Secret Santa a go
- Give invisible gift
- Save money with eCards
- Make your presents
- Revamp your decor from last year
- Book your travel tickets early
- Get cashback on purchases
- Save on festive food
- Get free stocking fillers
- Save on energy bills
- Save now for Christmas 2017
Ok, so it’s not a ground breaking money saving tip and it’s nothing you don’t know already, but you’ll be surprised how helpful it can be. Even if it makes you sit back with a sigh and realise you just can’t buy all the things you wanted, it could spur you into finding cheaper or even free ways to get the things you would like.
It’s easy to get carried away buying presents so the only way to stop yourself from overspending is to set a strict budget and stick to it.
If you can’t afford a present for everyone in the office or all your relatives, a great way to save money at Christmas is to do a secret Santa.
Everyone picks one name from a hat and you all set a maximum budget. Then all you have to worry about is one special present for one person. It’s especially a good idea if you have a big family and it’s a fun way to exchange gifts and save money too.
Talk to your family or colleagues about this. Tell them, if necessary, that you’re having to cut back this year and could you all just do a Secret Santa. It’s likely they will all be grateful too. Most people are feeling the pinch right now so they’re likely to go for it.
Are you getting tired of buying gifts for your loved ones that end up in the bin on boxing day? Well, why not go for something a little different this year?
The MoneyMagpie team are huge fans of ‘invisible gift’ giving. This simply means giving your loved one an e-gift such as an iTunes voucher to download their favourite film, an Amazon voucher to buy their favourite book or even e-tickets to a new theatre show.
You can’t hold them, wrap them up or put them under the tree but they’re guaranteed to make a big impact, and save you a packet on posting charges.
If you’re looking for presents for teenagers, who are often the most difficult to give to, then an egift is usually the best. They spend about 90% of their waking hours on the net in some form (is yours glued to their mobile phone constantly?) so they, more than anyone, will appreciate a present that helps them have more online.
Go digital this year by ditching the paper and sending e-Cards instead. Sites like 123Greetings and Funny-Ecards have some fabulous Christmas e-Cards to choose from and what’s great is that you don’t even have to pay a penny.
If you do have a few pennies to spare, then sign up to JacquieLawson. Here you can send as many e-cards as you like for as little as £7.25 a year or £11.00 for two years with no advertising.
Alternatively, make your own cards by printing out Christmas designs from the internet. Or make cards with lovely holly and ivy that you find on country walks or with great drawings and collage that your kids do. Family members often prefer to get a hand made card from children than the usual shop-bought ones at Christmas.
Of course, if you get really good at making Christmas cards you could try your hand at selling them. Find out here how you can make money writing gift cards.
Your friends and relatives will really appreciate the effort you went to in making them a gift, and if you can do it for free then so much the better. We have lots of articles on things you can make including hampers, beauty products and even cakes and jams.
You can find lots of craft ideas online like this list of 101 make-your-own Christmas gift ideas. You can make everything from snow globes to picture frames.
Instead of buying new Christmas decorations this year, how about simply revamping your old ones?
You don’t have to use them in the same way as you did last year though.
Being hidden in the loft for several months of the year can take its toll on your decorations, so if last year’s tree, baubles or garlands are looking a little worse for wear, give them a whole new look with paint and glitter instead of spending a fortune on new decorations.
Take a look on Pinterest to see different ways to decorate your home this Christmas. You could end up using the baubles you usually decorate your tree with in a new way – maybe hanging them individually from the ceiling using invisible thread. You could twist the fairy lights with the tinsel and put that around your door frames rather than around the tree. You might decide to go for all white and silver this year and only use the decorations that are white and silver, spraying some twigs and leaves to add to the look.
There are loads of different ways to use your decorations. Don’t just do the same thing each year.
You could also try organising a decoration swap with friends – that way everybody gets something new without having to pay for it. Ring your friends and neighbours and see who would like to join in.
Travel costs are one of the unavoidable Christmas expenses, but there are ways to make sneaky savings to lower your costs.
Buying your train tickets early could save you literally hundreds of pounds so make sure you book as early as possible. If you book at least by November, you should be able to get some great deals on train tickets. September and October are even better.
Remember that you can often save on train tickets if you spit them. In fact Trainsplit website helps you do it and you can save a stupid amount of money just by buying two or even three tickets for different parts of the same journey!.
If you haven’t got a railcard yet but you take the train quite regularly, it’s probably worth getting one. Costing between £20-30 a year, nearly everyone is covered by at least one of the railcards and could save 1/3 off rail journeys. If you’re 16-25, or 60 or over, if you travel with family and friends or one other person regularly, if you’re disabled or you travel a lot in the Network Rail area (Greater London), you could benefit from one of these.
When it comes to booking flights, according to Momondo, you get the cheapest deals on flights if you book them at least 53 days in advance. They also found it’s cheapest to book on a Tuesday. Saturdays are the most expensive – on average 11.5 per cent dearer than buying on a Tuesday!
If you don’t mind spending a few hours on a coach, you should also check out National Express and Megabus for seasonal deals. It takes a little longer to reach your destination but the savings you can make will be worth it.
Did you know you could actually make money on your Christmas shopping if you do it through a cashback site like Quidco?
With Quidco you could be buying all your presents and getting enough money back to buy yourself something lovely in January!
Sign up now so that you can make money as you spend!
Also, if you’re looking for the best deals, offers and sales then head to social media where you will find people sharing tips or links to discount vouchers and special offers.
Don’t forget to signup to our money saving newsletter here where we regularly send the best deals straight to your inbox. Also follow us on Twitter – @MoneyMagpie – and you’ll get up to date minute special offers and deals.
It seems like the Christmas food shop gets more and more expensive every year so don’t get caught out by paying more than you should for your food.
Use MySupermarket to compare the prices of your food shop – you can even do your shop online with your chosen supermarket (Asda, Tesco, Ocado and Sainsbury’s), they’ll keep a running tab on how much your shop costs and then if it works out that it’s cheaper through another supermarket you can choose to switch with the click of a button.
There are also great apps that help you get cheap food from restaurants and even free food locally. Check out our article on how to get free food wherever you live.
Also if you’re hosting this year, don’t be shy to ask guests to bring along a dish or two. Pot luck parties can be great as everyone can bring the dish they specialise in. it spreads the cost and shows off each one’s skills.
Those stocking fillers can really add up. They’re fun to buy but unless you’ve been buying throughout the year (which is a really good idea, by the way, as you can see below) it can be all to easy to spend too much on them.
However, there are great freebies to be had online which you can use to fill at least one Christmas stocking!
Check out the free websites like our friends LatestFreeStuff to see what they have on offer each day. Take a couple of weeks of applying for their items and you’re sure to have enough for a stocking.
People shouldn’t be afraid of putting the heating on, but one in ten admit that they would only put their heating on as a last resort this Winter because of the cost.
There are ways to save as you can see in our article here about saving on energy costs.
Also fix the heating to come on for a couple of hours when you wake up to make those chilly morning showers much more bearable, and then for a couple of hours again in the evening. Don’t waste money by having the heating on during the day when no-one is reaping the benefits.
It’s generally healthier for people to have a cooler house but to wear more warm clothes inside. You might feel a bit strange to start off with but once you get used to it it really makes sense.
Also, a massive 20% of your home’s heat escapes through cracks and gaps around doors and windows so use draught excluders, well-lined curtains and make sure windows are properly sealed.
Obviously, it’s also worth switching your energy provider to a cheaper version. Why not do that now so that your Christmas energy use will be cheaper??
It might sound crazy because Christmas 2016 isn’t even over yet but, if you want to have a stress free and debt free Christmas next year we recommend you make a start on saving for Christmas 2017 as soon as this Christmas is over.
Go to the post-Christmas sales and pick up bargains in wrapping paper, cards, presents and even Christmas puds – basically anything that will last for another 12 months.
Then set up a regular savings account or even a special piggy bank that takes all your £2 coins through the year so that you collect up money each month.
By doing this you’ll end up saving yourself loads of money, plus you can feel smug around the stressed-out shoppers come December.
Follow our top tips and you’ll have Christmas 2017 wrapped up in no time!
What are your top Christmas saving tips? Share them with us in the comments below or tweet us @MoneyMagpie.