10 tips for a brilliant, budget-friendly Christmas

Money 2018-11-28
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Our 10 top tips on how to make your money go further this Christmas.

With Christmas just round the corner, most of us are getting into the festive spirit, but secretly, we’re asking ourselves “how much is it going to cost me this year?”

Don’t panic, we’ve put together our top tips for keeping you on the straight and narrow this year without compromising on the festive fun.

1. Set a realistic budget
Before you hit the shops, sit down and work out how much you can afford to spend on Christmas as a whole. This is necessary for preventing over-spending, so don’t skip this step.

If you need some help along the way, there are lots of great budgeting apps available. In fact, we tried and tested some of them – see our verdict on them here.

Some commonly forgotten but necessary costs include:

Postage
If you’re sending season’s greetings to family and friends far and wide, don’t forget to budget for the postage costs for getting them there in time.

Pet care
If you’re going away for the festive season, don’t forget about your furry friends who may need some temporary accommodation.

Emergency decorations
You may think you have everything, but you’ll undoubtedly realise on unpacking that some of the light bulbs have gone, or you’ll remember the breaking sound you heard (and ignored) as you put everything back in the loft last year. Whatever it is, try to put aside some ‘emergency’ funds so you don’t get caught out.

Fuel
Christmas is all about spending time with loved one, but that can get expensive if you have several people to visit and you’re the designated driver. Make sure you plan for that ahead of time so nothing kills your Christmas Day buzz.

2. Don’t be a snob
When it comes to choosing gifts for your loved ones, don’t just look for named brands and don’t feel obliged to max out your budget. If you see something you think they’ll love, the chances are they will, regardless of the price.

The whole point of a gift is to make it as personal as possible. Trust us, family and friends will value a thoughtful present more than an expensive one.

3. Take advantage of cash back deals
Cashback is a great way of getting more bang for your buck when you’re shopping. Websites such as TopCashback and Quidco allow you collect bonuses when you shop through them rather than directly through the retailer, so sign up before you start the mad dash.

4. Branch out on your loyalty points
If you’ve been saving your supermarket loyalty points all year with the intention to use them on your big Christmas food shop, then stop right there. If you still have gifts to buy, why not use your points for that instead? That way, you’ll build up additional points that can then be used to ease the pain of the food shop. Two birds, one stone. Tesco Club Card and Nectar both offer great rewards so check them out now.

5. DIY gifts
Handmade gifts are the perfect way of letting those closest to you know how much you love them even if you’re on a budget. From photo albums jammed packed with precious memories, to a cosy knitted scarf, get your creative on and make someone’s Christmas unforgettable.

Top Tip: Why not try putting together your own pamper baskets with handmade body scrubs, bath bombs, a little bottle of wine and some chocolate? We know that we would love to have that in our stocking.

6. Sell or re-purpose last year’s unwanted gifts
If you still have unopened or unused gifts from last year taking up precious space then it might be time to let them go to a new home. Either sell them online to add some extra pennies into your Christmas budget or gift them to someone that you know will appreciate it (just make sure it’s not the person who gave it to you!)

7. “Bring a dish” Christmas dinner
Feeding the masses is not cheap, but Christmas dinner is an easy place to make some savings if you think outside the box. Make a list of all the side dishes and desserts, then ask each person to pick one and bring it along. It’s a great way of getting everyone together, and you could even have a blind taste test to decide a winner. It will also mean you’ll have more time to spend with them rather than being hidden away in the kitchen. Win-win.

8. Book travel as early as possible
Planning on staying with family over the festive period? Then it’s best to book your travel now if you’re taking the train as tickets can get quite expensive the closer to the travel date they are. Check out websites such as Trainline for up to date prices and offers to make your journey home stress-free.

9. Search for hidden gems online
You’ll be surprised with what you can find on eBay and Facebook marketplace these days. A lot of items are either brand new, discontinued stock or just hardly used which can amount to huge savings.

10. Secret Santa
Secret Santa isn’t just for the workplace. It’s also perfect for large families and groups of friends. If you can everyone to agree to take part, then you only have to worry about buying one present each and no one will feel left out. Also, not knowing what someone has bought you will add a little bit of magic to your Christmas.

We hope you all have a lovely Christmas and if you have any top tips for making Christmas savings then please share with us on either our Facebook or Twitter page.

Hitachi Hints and Tips is intended to be informative and interesting. It does not constitute financial advice, and you should always do further research when making any financial decisions. All information was correct at date of publication.

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