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How to make Christmas more affordable

Money Advice Service

Christmas can be an expensive time of the year. In fact, according to Money Advice Service findings, we expect to spend £487 on average this time round, and that’s on top of the typical monthly outgoings. If you’re just back to work or still looking, paying for the festive season can seem a little daunting. But, with a plan in place, it needn’t be so.

Here are ten top tips on how to make your money go further at Christmas.

1. Budget for Christmas
Write a Christmas shopping list, including everything from presents and decorations to festive food and travel costs. Think back to what you spent last year and keep a record of your outgoings this Christmas so you can avoid blowing your budget.

2. Look for ways to save
Christmas might still feel some way off, but it’ll be here before you know it and trying to pay for the lot in one hit is a tall order. If possible, spread your spending over the weeks leading up to the festive season. If you can, try to cut back on non-essentials, such as socialising and food treats in the weeks before Christmas. A little pruning now will help pay for the inevitable splurge.

3. Give yourself time
Start shopping around for ideas now. It may seem a little early, but there will be good deals out there and by scouring the market you can avoid the rush – and the inevitable delivery delays if you buy online.

4. Watch out for the bargains
It’s often cheaper to shop online, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. It’s definitely worth scrutinising newspapers for discount vouchers and special deals.

5. Keep your receipts
If you’re keen to spread the financial load over the weeks before Christmas, be sure to keep your receipts. Should you buy a present that isn’t all that well received, you may well be able to return or exchange it – returns policies are often found on till receipts or on retailers’ websites.

6. Cheap treats
Dates, nuts and a bottle of port are the kinds of treats that are traditionally associated with Christmas, so it’s tempting to get suckered into buying them too early. When it comes to treats, leave it until the last minute when retailers are desperate to offload goods they know we’ll be fed up with come January. Getting a half price deal on Christmas Eve is a treat in itself.

7. Boxing Day sales
If you’re not planning to visit family or friends until after Christmas Day, take advantage of the Boxing Day sales to buy presents. You could also pick up cut-price wrapping paper, cards and decorations – and put them aside until next year.

8. Save on stamps
Post boxes are chocked full of Christmas cards in the weeks leading up to the big day, yet you could make a decent saving by sending email greetings. If you prefer the traditional approach don’t delay it too much – a first class stamp costs 60p on standard size post of up to 100g in weight, whereas a second class stamp costs 50p. If you plan to post a lot of cards aim to get them in the system by Wednesday 18 December – this is two days before the first class delivery deadline.

9. Credit warning
Payday loans may be presented as a quick way to get cash, but the interest rates are invariably very high. You could be better off speaking to your bank about your overdraft limit, or perhaps looking for a credit union you could use – if you have just started work ask your employer about this option.

10. One for next time
Christmas is not Groundhog Day, but for many of us it can feel like it is. When it’s just around the corner there is suddenly a huge pressure to spend on presents and festive goodies. For this reason it’s a good idea to put a saving plan in place to help fund next Christmas. Consider opening a savings account, and using a Direct Debit to put a small amount away each week or month. Over the course of a year, you could accrue a pot that will help make next Christmas less of a strain.

All information accurate at time of publication

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.


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