How to stay savvy during your Christmas shopping

Christmas is the most expensive time of the year for pretty much everyone, with the obligation to buy gifts and serve up a festive feast designed to keep bellies stuffed way past Boxing Day.

But it needn’t be a bunker-buster on your bank balance and there are many ways consumers can minimis…

Christmas is the most expensive time of the year for pretty much everyone, with the obligation to buy gifts and serve up a festive feast designed to keep bellies stuffed way past Boxing Day.

But it needn’t be a bunker-buster on your bank balance and there are many ways consumers can minimise the financial burden of Christmas. Here are just a few of them…

Budget properly

They say that prevention is better than the cure and it’s certainly true when it comes to avoiding post-Christmas debt. As obvious as it may seem, outline exactly how much you can afford to spend on Christmas, not necessarily how much you’d like to spend, and stick to it.

Christmas is just one day, it’s not worth spoiling the next year for.

Cut out unnecessary presents

This may sound crazy, but brush aside the joy of giving for a moment and consider not buying presents for certain people.

We’re not suggesting you refrain from buying for your immediate family but, rather, reassess who you give to. Do you really need to buy for your extended family, friends’ kids, work colleagues or next-door neighbours?

It can be easy to get carried away with buying bits for everyone, but rethinking who you give to can mean big savings.

Buy for the kids

Keep your friends and siblings sweet by agreeing to just buy for their children and they buy for yours.

If you can’t bear not gifting at least a little something to your best friend at Christmas time, then suggest setting a limit of about £5. That way you’re making a gesture while keeping outlay to a minimum.

What’s on locally?

Keeping the kids entertained can be costly, but many theatre groups put on their own pantomimes around Christmas and tickets can often be just a few quid.

Check the local paper or online forums to see which productions are going on; you may be able to secure an afternoon’s entertainment for a slice of the cost of a cinema visit.

Say hi to Saint Nick for free

Every shopping centre gets in on the Santa act these days and although Santa experiences vary in size and quality, it is easy to find one that is super-cheap or even free.

Jot down all the shopping centres you’re prepared to travel to and do some online digging to see if there’s an entry fee or any added extras for visiting.

Fakes are fantastic

For some, Christmas isn’t the same without a real tree, and we get that, but if you’re not one of those people, forking out for a fake means you can reuse the tree every Christmas for many years.

A decent fake typically costs about the same as a regular real tree so you’ll have made a saving by the time Christmas rolls around again.

Compare to save

If you’re missed out on the Black Friday sales, you can still bag those most-wanted items on your child’s wishlist by playing retailers off against each other and comparing prices from multiple outlets.

You can get a decent idea of what the most competitive prices are with a simple online search. Couple this with buying through a cashback site to get more bang for your buck.

Get booze in bulk

It’s the time of year when supermarkets like to tell you how cheap their drinks are and bulk-buying your booze is the way forward if you’re having guests.

As size and quantities vary between brands, you should try to get hold of the litre price, that way you’ll be better informed on how good a deal really is.

eBay locally

Some eBayers simply can’t handle a trip to the post office so they’ll put their item as collection only. Their laziness is your gain, so if you restrict a search to a decent radius within your postcode, you could bag big ticket items at a snip of the cost.

Save early and spread the cost

Okay, maybe we’re a bit late on this one, but setting aside a bit of cash each month throughout the year means that you’re not funding Christmas from a single pay-packet. This will give you a better chance of starting the new year without debt.

When borrowing is unavoidable…

Get a zero per cent credit card, that way you’re not paying any interest on your purchases. The best offers are constantly changing but, at the time of writing, Tesco is offering a zero per cent spending card for up to 28 months, while Sainsburys and Post Office are almost as competitive with 27 months.

Book train tickets early (or leave it late)

Again, another tip that would’ve been worth knowing about a few months ago, but if you are visiting family or friends during the Christmas break, you can get the lowest fare by booking train tickets a few months in advance, say in September or October.

That’s not to say that you’ve totally missed the boat (or the train, in this case) because some train operators may still have cut-price tickets the night before.

By Joe White

 

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