Let’s face it - it's really easy to overspend at Christmas, especially if you tend to leave shopping until the last minute and end up panic-buying expensive gifts.
The good news is there are plenty of ways to keep festive bills to a minimum. Here are our top 10 tips to help you cut Christmas costs.
1. Work out a budget
If you haven’t started shopping yet, don’t start before you’ve worked out exactly how much you can afford to spend without pushing yourself into debt. You can get help planning your Christmas budget from the Money Advice Service.
2. Get creative
Few presents go down better than the ones you’ve put a lot of thought and effort into, so why not get those creative juices flowing and make some of your presents this year?
If you’re good at knitting, a homemade scarf is likely to go down a treat, or if you’re nifty in the kitchen, bake some biscuits or make some jam or preserves to give as gifts.
3. Shop around
Never buy anything without checking to see if you can find it cheaper elsewhere. Sites such as Pricerunner.co.uk and Kelkoo.co.uk enable you to track down the best prices on your shopping by comparing products from hundreds of different retailers so you can make sure you aren’t paying more than necessary.
4. Give vouchers
If you can’t think of anything you want to make, you could give out vouchers to friends and family offering free help, such as an evening babysitting, lifts to the station, three hours of ironing or gardening, or anything else that would cost you nothing but time.
5. Reduce delivery charges
Many of us rely on online shopping when buying Christmas presents, but all those delivery charges can soon mount up. Use ‘click and collect’ services wherever possible when you shop online and then go and pick up your items yourself.
Alternatively, check whether delivery is free if you spend over a certain amount, say £20 or £30. If you’re spending an amount very close to this, it may be more cost-effective to add a stocking filler item to your order so you qualify for free delivery.
6. Use voucher codes
When shopping online, always check voucher code websites such as myvouchercodes.co.uk, vouchercodespro.co.uk and vouchercodes.co.uk to see if you can find any discount codes. Once you’ve found one, you simply enter the code at the online checkout to get money off or free delivery.
7. Cash in loyalty points
Recent research from loyalty card app Loyalive found that we’re sitting on a massive £6 billion in unused rewards from the top 10 loyalty schemes. Go through your wallet and see if you have unused Boots Advantage, Tesco Clubcard and Sainsbury’s Nectar points that could be turned into presents for friends and family.
8. Book transport early
It may be too late for this year, but remember that if you’re making a train journey to visit friends or family at Christmas, you should always book tickets as early as possible. Rail companies usually offer the cheapest tickets 12 weeks in advance, so you should book then if you want to keep costs to a minimum.
9. Earn cashback
There are plenty of ways you can earn cashback on your festive spending. Cashback websites such as Quidco and Topcashback pay you money every time you shop, when you click through the website to make purchases online.
Several credit cards offer cashback when you spend too, but make sure you pay off your balance in full each month otherwise interest charges are likely to outweigh any cashback you earn.
10. Cut food costs
With supermarkets bending over backwards to tempt us with endless festive offers, it can be impossible to know where you’ll get the best deal on your Christmas food shop. This where the comparison site Mysupermarket.com comes in handy, as you can compare the cost of your shopping at Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Ocado, Boots and Superdrug on this site, and then buy from the best value store.
The site also offers a Savvy Buys tool whereby you sign up for alerts and they tell you when a product is at least 30% cheaper than it has been all year across all the supermarkets.