You can save for Christmas starting right now so that the festive season is a happy and relaxed time, not fraught with worries about how you will pay for it.
Ok, right now Christmas is probably the last thing you want to think about. But, if you start early you won’t have to spend much each month to make it a fab one this year.
Follow our top tips and you’ll have next Christmas wrapped up in no time!
- Do some Christmas shopping now
- Cashback sites
- The Post Office savings scheme
- Get a decent regular savings account
- Credit Unions
- Collecting coins
- Savvy supermarket saving
You can save for Christmas by taking advantage of the Christmas sales and pick up bargains now that you can use as gifts come December. Throughout the year keep an eye out for any handy sale items, and take advantage of special offers and sales as the year goes by.
By doing this you’ll end up saving yourself loads of money, plus you can feel smug around the stressed out shoppers come December if you’ve got most of yours out of the way.
And it’s not just gifts you can shop for – keep an eye out at the supermarket for great deals on food, wines and spirits that can be stored away for Christmas Day or even New Years Eve – if you’ve got the room! Buy a non-perishable, Christmas item once a week through the year and put it in the cupboard for the festive season. So it could be a bottle of plonk or a Christmas pudding (buy it in the January sales!), or a jar of cranberry sauce and so on. Even if you just buy a few of them through the year it means you will have less to buy in December.
These days buying online is invariably cheaper than going to the high street, and you can still do some early Christmas shopping online too. Make the most of it by shopping through a cashback site where you can earn some money in the process.
These sites work by sharing some of the commission they receive from selling goods online with you – meaning you earn with every purchase. We like Quidco as it has loads of deals and helps you build up your cash pot pretty quickly. Also find out how to make £100s a year from cashback sites here.
The Post Office has its own Christmas Club savings account for over 16s, and it’s a great way to save for Christmas.
The way it works is that you get a Christmas Club card which you can use to make deposits over the counter at any Post Office. The minimum deposit is £2 up to a total of £1,000 per card per year. So if you wanted to save more than £1,000 for Christmas this is not for you – although you could always combine it with another savings scheme if you wanted.
The Post Office will write to you at the end of October to let you know how much money you have accumulated, and then from November 1 until January 31 you can start spending your pre-paid Christmas Club card in participating high street stores in the same way you would with a debit card.
The Post Office has done deals with more than 200 retailers so far, including Argos, Boots, Debenhams, Halfords, House of Fraser, Peacocks and WHSmith.
One drawback of this is that you can’t use the card for mail-order or online, which is often where you will find the best deals. Also, if you need to access your money before November, you can only do so once, with a fee of £5. If there is still money remaining on the card after January 31 it will be carried forward to the next year. Alternatively, you can claim the money back at a redemption fee of £5.
An important thing to consider is that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme does not apply to the Post Office Christmas Club card, so should the Post Office go bust, your saved money is not protected. See all terms and conditions here.
A regular savings account offers you more flexibility than the Post Office Savings Scheme, and allows you to deposit more money. It’s a great way to set a little bit aside each month so you’ve got some cash to drawn on come Christmas.
Admittedly, savings accounts don’t give much in the way of interest at the moment but even so it’s worth putting a bit in each month as it will build up over the year. Set up a standing order at the beginning of the month – when you pay your other bills – to go straight into your Christmas savings account, and you won’t even notice it after a while.
See here for the best easy-access savings accounts around. Pick one and set your own, personal Christmas savings account up.
Credit Unions are generally run by local people for local people. They are managed on sound principles and work on your behalf rather than trying to get the most money out of you – which is good news if the economic crisis has turned you into a high-street bank sceptic.
Each credit union has a ‘common bond’ which determines who can join it. This may be people living or working in the same area or those who are members of the same organisation, so ultimately, only your neighbours or colleagues benefit from your investment.
Credit Unions pay an annual dividend on your savings but you can take money out during the year if you need to (try not to!) As with banks and building societies, your money is protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (i.e. the first £85,000 of your savings is safe whatever happens to the Credit Union).
Even if you don’t open a Christmas account, Credit Unions are worth joining anyway, so have a look at FindYourCreditUnion to find one near you.
It’s simple and it’s old-fashioned – but as a way to save for Christmas, it does work.
At the end each week, pick out all the loose change from your pockets, wallets and bags and put it in a jar. You could simply put all your copper change in, or, if you hate carrying coins altogether, all your silver coins, pounds and £2 coins too. If you do this every week it’s amazing how much you can save over a year.
The downsides of this method are that a) you don’t make any interest on your savings, b) someone could take the money, and c) you could dip into it in times of dire need (like needing new shoes or going to the pub).
So it may be best to combine this method with one of the suggestions above.
At the end of every month, collect the coins you have saved and haul them off to the Post Office, a Credit Union or a building society. That way you will earn some interest and the money will be safe from pilferers (including yourself!). However, if you trust yourself (and others), make sure you separate the coins into money bags every once in a while and convert them into notes to save room and make your savings easier to count!
An easy way to save for Christmas shopping now is to start saving up your supermarket loyalty points. Always remember to swipe your card whenever you shop and you’ll be amazed at how quickly they stack up. Come the festive season you’ll be knocking a chunk of money off the price of your shop by using the points up then – perfect.
Don’t forget that the supermarkets also have double and even triple points offers every so often too, so be sure to take advantage of those and get even more towards your Christmas shop. Remember you can apply the same idea to stores like Boots, and then use your Advantage Card points to buy Christmas gifts.