Christmas shopping on a budget and your chance to win £100 in vouchers

Advice for how to budget and manage your spending this Christmas and a prize draw to win £100 in vouchers

It’s difficult not to get sucked into the commercial element of Christmas; the shops transform into winter wonderlands and seemingly ordinary items that you wouldn’t consider buying suddenly have an appeal thanks to the Christmas packaging. Here are some of our tips to help you enjoy the holiday season without hurting the bank balance.

Saving up for Christmas

At the start of January I blogged about a campaign the Office of Fair Trading launched to encourage people to save up for Christmas all throughout the year. I’m not sure how successful the campaign was, but I think we can all agree that saving is a great idea and if you didn’t manage to save this year then you might want to consider it for Christmas/New Year 2012/2013.

Okay, so it’s October now and if you haven’t managed to save up a sizeable amount of Christmas funds, then you can still be smart about your Christmas shopping with a little bit of planning and research.

Research your Christmas gift list online first

Online shopping can be a great way to make savings.  Lots of online stores can afford to sell items cheaper than on the high street because their overheads are lower. Having said that, there are still many of you who prefer to buy in person but that doesn’t mean online shopping sites can’t help you! Most high street stores have websites so you can compare the prices from one store to another and remember – price comparison websites aren’t just about insurance, some of them can also compare electrical items and other gifts.

Quick tip: type the name of the product you want to buy into Google and view “shopping results”.

Example: I typed in “Moshi Monsters Toy” and I was shown the following:

Make a shopping list

This might sound like an obvious tip but after you’ve done your research online you should then make a list of all the items you want to buy and where has the best price. Christmas is one of those times of the year when it’s easy to let your spending get out of control because you’re buying gifts for lots of different people and it can be hard to keep track of where you’re up to. Having a list will help you keep your focus and steer you in the right direction. In theory, a list should also stop you from buying things that you don’t need.

Look out for special offers and deals

Retailers are all competing to get you to spend in their stores and sometimes you can use this to your advantage. However not all “special offers” are great value. As I’ve mentioned above, make a list and stick to it but if you have something on your list which is available from a number of different retailers, then it’s worth looking out for “free gift” offers or bundles. Many of the big name make-up counter brands offer free gifts if you buy two items so if you’re stocking up on your favourite lipstick you could pick up a beauty gift absolutely free.

Another trend I’ve seen recently is video game bundles. I recently ordered a copy of the latest Batman video game and I managed to find a package that included the video game plus two DVDs of the recent Batman films – all for the same price as some other retailers were selling the game alone for!

Is a gift set better value for money?

This tip relates to the research element. A festively-packaged gift set can be very alluring and sometimes they can be great value for money. If you’re looking at a perfume gift set, check the price of the perfume on its own to make sure you’re not being ripped off. It’s also worth remembering that festive gift sets are often the first thing to be reduced in the sales. So if you don’t mind waiting until after Christmas Day, you could save even more.

Christmas and IVAs: Can I take a payment break in my IVA for Christmas?

Unfortunately for people in IVAs it is not usually permitted to grant payment breaks for Christmas. This is because by the terms of the IVA you cannot miss more than two payments without putting yourself in breach of the terms.  If you were to take a payment break each Christmas in your IVA this would total five months. Additionally if you were granted a payment break then you could be forced to increase your payments to make up any arrears, which in the longterm doesn’t seem quite worth it.  Remember, although you may like a payment break over Christmas, there may be a time in the future duration of your IVA where you need it more.

Share your Christmas Shopping Tips and win £100 vouchers

Do you have any Christmas shopping tips to share? Leave a comment below and we’ll be picking one lucky commenter to win an £100 shopping voucher to add to their Christmas shopping funds!

Update – A big thank you to all who left their Christmas shopping tips. We have chosen a winner at random and they have been notified.

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  1. I have decided this year to make many of my presents; I have a store cupboard of preserves and chutneys which I will gift wrap (many made from fruit and veg I grew in the garden this summer). I have also been and am busy knitting jumpers, scarves etc in Aran patterns which seem to be all the rage in the shops this year. Apart from having a quality present at a lower cost than the shops,there is the love and care which has gone into the making of them. It has also kept me busy since i retired.

  2. I bought my Christmas cards AFTER the event as they tend to be much cheaper.  I’ve also been saving any gift wrapping or bags that are in good condition and re-using them……no one notices to be honest!  I warned everyone at the beginning of 2011 that I have set a spending limit on each gift which I have stuck to and I only now buy presents for my 2 childre, 2 step grandchildren and my Dad.  My siblings are fine with this.

  3. i have started to recyle my old chrstmas cards, trailing the charity shops for card glue glitter etc, and have got all i need for under £3.00 to make all the cards i need, also found that they had some really fantastic new gifts which i have purchased saving myself a lot of money and also giving to charity at the same time i will continue to shop for bargains within our limited budget,  car boot sales are great for unwanted gifts at very low costs another great tip is get to know when your supermarket reduces their products i go to my super market at around 7pm when everything is at their lowest prices bread 20p joints of meat £2.00 and many more bargains it really does save a lot of money and the trolley is full for very little money, hope this helps everyone out there

  4. I trawl the charity shops for bargains and wait until Christmas Week when the stores have huge reductions in the pre Christmas sales.  I also look for gifts whilst on holiday in the summer months and can usually find some – this helps to spread the cost.  One other way is to give gift vouchers but only to the amount you can afford, and let the recipient choose their own gift. 

  5. I have subcribed to online discount site such as groupon, livingsocial and vouchercodes. These such sites have amazing deals were you can recieve up to 90% of all kinds of items, shops, spas, beauty etc in your local area. I have been able to buy a whole range of wonderful gifts for my loved ones at discount prices!! 

  6. My tip is simple
    It’s just on day … Christmas …
    You present should be simple
    and thoughtful For this special day
    but remember the rest of the year
    Is special also
    Spend a little less at christmas
    and this will allow you to make
    a few other days special with a gift
    also through the year

  7. Personally, I feel that if people really want to give presents at Christmas, it should be done with some deep thought and sincerity behind it; Less is more! And also people should not feel obligated to give buy/gifts, just because other people have them; ‘keeping up with the Jones’ syndrome.  The public need to remember what the true meaning of Christmas is all about. Jesus died on the cross, to save the world!

  8. I was at my local tesco store the other week when I noticed that a gift set they were selling cost just under a fiver but they had the same items minus the box at half price in the same asile uder special offers

  9. Me and my family decided a few years ago to do something called “secret santa” where we put everyones name into a hat and draw one out each and the persons name who you get, you only buy one present for that one person for £50. It saved us all so much money over christmas 🙂

  10. dont go mad direct family only or you can go on forever.
    put a limit per person and stay under it.

  11. Set yourself a budget go to the shops with cash only leave all cards at home. This will make you shop more carefully

  12. Christmas for me starts as soon as the January sales start! This is when I buy all of my cards, wrapping paper, gifts tags and if I need any some new tree decorations!  Then at the end of the summer the toy shop always has a massive sale so thats when I buy for all my nephews and nieces, always finding them something that is reduced to at least half the price.  My sisters receive homemade sweets or biscuits and my parents receive a homemade christmas cake! 

  13. I make my own hampers. An old shoe/trainer/boots box line the box and lid with paper and fill them with odds and ends I’ve picked up on 3 for 2’s or buy one get one free etc. By starting now, end of October begining of November, everyone will be done in time for Christmas. Costs me very little in the long run and the recipients love all their little surprises.

  14. My shopping tip would be shop for christmas presents during the years sales, spring, summer, autumn. You can bag some great bargins and save yourself hundreds. Why pay more at Christmas? Oh, and ALWAYS keep your receipts!

  15. My tip would be if you have a gift in mind, have a look on ebay first, sometimes you can find just the thing you are looking for for less than half the price that you’d find it in the highstreet. 

  16. i have limited the amount to spend on christmas presents this year and told my family and friends that this is all i can afford. they all agreed and this has lifted some of the stress that is common place around this time of year

  17. Many years ago our family agreed to set a budget per present of £5 per adult couple.  This has resulted in lots of ingenuity in buying presents, many of us make our gifts, or squirrel away gifts through the year buying them when we see them. When buying for very young children use charity shops, NCT toy sales and keep an eye on websites such as Freecycle.  Don’t start buying stocking fillers too early because it’s easy to forget what you have bought and then overbuy.  Be firm and don’t buy that ‘extra little something’ in the last few days before Christmas when it’s easy for panic buying to set in.  Keep a grip on your food shopping it’s so easy to over cater, remember the shops are only shut for 24 hours, you won’t starve! 

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