Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.
As much as we wish it could be Christmas every day, unfortunately it can’t. However, we can plan ahead with our Christmas savings to make sure it’s a financially stress-free time of year!
We’ve all sat down to think about the ideal presents for our family and friends, only to reconsider our choices after checking our bank balances. Christmas grows closer and you realise its going to be another year of socks and gift cards, how original.
Maybe it’s time we began putting more of an emphasis on saving for Christmas. We’re not encouraging you to sign up to a voucher savings scheme – but instead, to save all year round to build a nice Christmas fund in time for December!
Cashback sites pay you a cash reward when you go through them to buy goods or financial products from other companies. TopCashback and Quidco offer cashback on lots of goods from mobile phone contracts to car insurance or even bank accounts! They can afford to do this because the retailer pays them a small commission for sending them customers. Some of this profit is shared with you, in the form of a percentage of your qualifying purchase.
Cashback sites also have offers that let you make money for free by completing surveys, entering prize draws or even just getting a quote from a price comparison website.
The best deals come when you are signing up to something for a number of months or even years. You can earn hundreds of pounds by signing up to a new broadband or phone contract via cashback sites. Check whether your preferred providers are registered with these cashback sites before signing yourself up to a new contract with them. A good way to remember to do this is to set the cashback site as your homepage. Then whenever you open your browser, you’ll see it to remind you to check there first!
Cashback sites offer a range of ways to claim your cashback. You can transfer it to your bank account, through Paypal, or as a gift card. Often, if you select a gift card, you’ll get an extra ‘bonus’ percentage on top! The gift card is often a great option – especially if you want to buy all of your Christmas gifts online. You’ll often be able to choose a prepaid Mastercard as your gift card: this means you can spend it anywhere online, rather than limited to one or a group of retailers.
All are great options to help you save for Christmas, whether it be a cash boost to put away in your savings, or a gift card to set aside for your Christmas food shop, or even some extra presents. You can leave your cashback to accrue over the year, so you’re not tempted to spend it anywhere else. With the way savings interest rates are right now, you’ll not lose much (if anything!) by doing this instead of moving it into an easy access savings account.
Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose all offer their own variations of a loyalty card. Using them will give you weekly or monthly offers on the products you buy the most.
You earn points whenever you purchase things from the supermarket. You can spend these when they reach a minimum limit (usually only around £1 worth of vouchers), but if you save them until December you’ll be able to pay for your Christmas shop with them!
Some supermarkets offer a Christmas Saver scheme, too. When you do your weekly shop, you add an extra couple of pounds to the final bill. This goes onto your Saver Scheme account, and you’ll get extra bonuses and discounts when it’s time to spend your saved cash on your Christmas shop. For example, the Iceland Bonus Card gives you a £1 bonus for every £20 saved through the year. That’s a 5% return – better than any savings account right now!
You don’t have to spend it on your Christmas food shop, either. Loyalty schemes let you convert your points to ‘rewards’, such as vouchers towards larger purchases. For example, £5 in Clubcard vouchers buys a £15 voucher for Goldsmiths jewellery shop.
If you see something cheaper in a different shop though, go for the deal, as you might end up saving more in the long run. Sign up to the loyalty scheme in each shop to make the most of all of your purchases!
Save more money with your grocery shopping – check out this article on the sneaky supermarket tricks you need to know.
If you don’t have a bank or building society savings account, then maybe it’s time to have a look around! Your savings will earn interest and your money is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. There are loads of different savings accounts around, so do some research and find the best one for you!
There is a tough choice to choose between a regular savings account and an instant/easy access account though. You should only opt for an instant/easy access account if you are confident in your money management. You don’t want to put money away for Christmas, if it’s going to leave you struggling the rest of the year. Regular savings accounts might offer you a better interest rate, but you might have to lock your money away for a year and commit to saving a certain amount each month.
A few credit unions offer dedicated Christmas savings accounts. These are usually only available to open at the beginning of the year, and will not allow you to withdraw any of your money until a couple of weeks before Christmas. Again, check around to find the best interest rates before opening account!
Savings apps are a savvy way to set aside money for Christmas. Most offer the option to save into several “pots” for different things. In addition, you could set up a time release pot. You decide when you’re allowed to access your money – so it’s a great way to set money aside knowing you can’t touch it until Christmas!
Some savings apps offer ‘sweeper’ options. Your Christmas savings plan becomes super-easy here: your purchases are rounded up to the nearest pound every time you buy something. The spare change is ‘swept’ into a savings account. It might be 1p here, 10p there – but over the course of the year, it quickly adds up. The amounts are so small, however, you won’t notice them leaving your account – making it really easy to save.
If you haven’t thought about savings apps before, then check out our previous article to check out the best standalone savings apps of 2020!
Take online surveys in your spare time to earn extra cash. For a few minutes each day, you can earn small rewards that amount to a large Christmas payout. Take surveys in return for cash (or, sometimes, points that are converted to cash). How much you get for each survey depends on the site you use and the length of the survey. Each survey in itself won’t make you rich – but you can easily rack up £50 a month or more for just a couple of minutes’ work each day.
Save the cash in your account until it’s time for Christmas spending – or move it into a special savings account to make sure you don’t accidentally spend it. Some of these sites take a couple of weeks to get your money paid out once it’s requested – so make sure you check the latest date you’ll need to ask for the transfer.
Using a credit card to pay for Christmas is Really Not A Good Idea. If you’re spending out of your means for the Christmas period, it’s more important that you look at your budget and find ways to be creative with it. For example, those with large extended families might agree an only-buy-presents-for-the-children deal. This saves a LOT of money on gifts! Or, set a low budget with your partner such as £10 each – and you both have to be as creative with that budget as possible. (Hint: charity shops and homemade stuff works well here!).
However, if you use a credit card for your regular spending through the year, consider a rewards card. As long as you can pay your bill in full each month, you won’t pay interest but will get the benefits of rewards. Cashback cards, for example, could earn you a couple of hundred pounds in a year.
Consider rewards cards linked to everyday spending, too. Much like the loyalty card schemes mentioned above, many supermarkets offer a credit card scheme, too. You’ll earn the same type of loyalty points when you spend on your credit card, meaning you effectively double the points you earn. So, let’s say you use your reward credit card in the supermarket: you earn your usual loyalty points AND extra points because you’re spending on the credit card. Sometimes additional offers earn more points – like extra points if you buy fuel from the same supermarket.
Christmas can be a tough time for us all, and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make it the most magical time of the year. But remember these few tips and with any luck this year it will be a lot easier for you!
If Christmas is on your mind, then why not check out a few of our other articles, to help you plan ahead:
Get weekly ideas, deals & freebies
New data capture form 2023
"*" indicates required fields
I use Nectar Canvass to take surveys to earn Nectar points for my Sainsbury’s shopping, I also use cashback and receipt scanning apps to earn a bit extra, although I’ve shifted from earning extra money to saving more now. I’ve earned more Nectar points from surveys than shopping in Sainsbury’s!
Some great ideas. And got me excited about Christmas!