By Esmée Hardwick-Slack
The festive period is great, the kids are happy, there’s amazing food and everyone’s spirits are up. But then January rolls around and you realise just how much money you’ve spent over Christmas. On average, we spend around £450 on food, alcohol, presents, travel, wrapping paper and decorations. But getting the most out of the festive holiday doesn’t always have to leave you out of pocket, here are our tips on how to spend less this Christmas:
First things first, plan! Not just for how many present you need to buy, but for the wrapping paper, decorations, tree, food, drinks, travel everything! It’s the little things that we forget that will often pump up the price. Money Saving Expert even have a free Budget Planner to help you. If you set aside a certain amount for each thing, then you’re much less likely to overspend, and don’t forget to put aside a little extra for any last minute Secret Santa presents you may need to buy!
Want to avoid the Christmas shopping crowds? I don’t blame you. Online shopping can be an easy way to get your Xmas shop done without all the hassle. But how do you know you’re getting the best deals online? Well, impartial price comparison sites are a great way to ensure you’ve found the best price! Websites like Pricesearcher and CamelCamelCamel are great to have open when online shopping. Free Chrome extensions like Honey can also be a massive saver online, after you sign up, Honey will automatically apply the best coupons and discount codes to your shopping. And remember to note 26th November in your calendar (Cyber Monday) to get the very best online discounts.
Don’t fall for big brands
Often, we believe just because a product is from a certain brand that the price must reflect the quality, but for many things this isn’t true. Many own brand products are just as good or better, so don’t be afraid to go for a name you don’t recognise. We shouldn’t pride ourselves on the price tag – it’s the thought that counts after all! And remember, young kids aren’t bothered about price – many seem to enjoy the gift box more! So with this in mind, don’t fork out unnecessarily for something they may get bored with after a day.
If you’re planning a trip to the in-laws over Christmas getting your ticket via sites like Train Splitting and Money Saving Expert can really slash the price of your train tickets.
Attending a few Christmas parties over the festive period? Don’t forget to pre book your taxis and agree the price in advance – this can be a real life saver around busy periods and means you can avoid that dreaded Uber surge!
Selling unused items
Have something you haven’t used since last Christmas? Sell it. Having a bit extra around this time of year can’t hurt, and selling your unused / unwanted items can be a great way to get a bit of extra cash. There are loads of website and apps out there to help you get started like Ebay, Gumtree, Shpock and Depop. Even Facebook now have a marketplace to help you buy & sell locally with zero fees! And if you can’t wait for a sale, websites like MusicMagpie can give you instant quotes on your unwanted games, CDs, DVDS and gadgets.
Agree to ban unnecessary presents
Christmas, for many, is an excuse to spend lots of money on useless novelty items or “stocking fillers” that are good for a two-second chuckle, but are then put to one side and forgotten about. We get so swept up in the notion of gift-giving that we end up wasting money because we feel obligated to get everyone something – which in turn, makes others feel obligated to buy something for us. Have a chat with your friends or extended family and throw out the idea of banning unnecessary gifts, for some, the gift of ‘not having to buy you something’ might be preferable. If not, you could agree a £10 or £5 limit – or even less and make it a challenge!
If you spot a bargain that’ll last or can go in the freezer, grab it early! Things like frozen meats & veg, chocolates and alcohol can be bought way in advance, just make sure everyone knows it’s for Christmas! Having a shelf or cupboard for all your Xmas treats can help spread out costs and means there won’t be a last minute panic for pigs in blankets.
The same goes for gifts. Throughout the year, keep an eye out for deals on things like candles, bath bombs or giftsets to put to one side. If you’re stuck on something to get a colleague for secret Santa, just have a rummage through your gift cupboard! That candle you bought back in May might be the perfect present!
Why not try saving some money by being creative this year! Surely watching all those episodes of Bake Off has inspired you put your baking skills to the test? Try your hand at some gingerbread men or Christmas cupcakes! There are loads of simple, delicious recipes out there that’d make the perfect addition to your Christmas spread, or you could give them as tasty gifts!
You can also find your inner artist by making some decorations! There are so many websites and videos on making your own decorations. From wine cork wreaths to plastic cup snowmen! You’ll soon find yourself in a Youtube hole of ‘how to’ videos.
If nothing else, it’s a bit of fun and a great way to spend an afternoon with the family!
How do you make sure you don’t overspend at Christmas? Let us know in the comments or join the discussion on our Twitter.
How To: Get Your Money’s Worth
Tips for a productive: December