Christmas is the time when all the family comes together, but before everyone is sitting down for Christmas dinner and board games a lot of planning and preparation is needed. There is shopping, card writing, gift wrapping and decorating the tree and in an attempt to make the celebrations extra special, many of us spend more than we actually should. Is starting the preparations earlier a way to save money? My friend Heather swears by shopping in the sales and spreading the cost over the year. This year, she had all her shopping done and wrapped up by July while I was still in saving mode, collecting bonus points in every shop possible while transferring my spare pennies (or pounds when I was lucky) into my Online Savings Accounts for the big Christmas shopping spree.
Spreading the cost over a couple of months and saving it up doesn’t make Christmas any cheaper, but it stops you from starting the new year with a big fat minus on your statement. If you want to try some alternative tips and tricks, why not look at some of the following ways to make savings for Christmas. They are really easy and have helped me save a small fortune over the last couple of years, so why not adapt them for your own family?
Set yourself a budget and stick to it
This sounds easier than it actually is, so be really strict with yourself. Write down all the people you have to buy presents for and allocate each person a certain budget. Once you have set it, don’t go back to change it. At the same time, make sure you keep an overview of the presents you have already bought. Whenever you buy a present, write the item next to the person you have bought it for and cross them off your to-buy-for-list to avoid buying two or three presents for the same person – believe me, I’ve been there!
Buy in the sales
Wrapping paper, Christmas cards and decorations won’t go off, so why not buy them in the January sales? They will just cost a fraction of their pre-Christmas price and you won’t have to rush buying items everyone wants just before Christmas. You could save even more by making your own tree decorations, cards or wrapping paper.
Collect bonus cards throughout the year
There are a number of great bonus card schemes around, which allow you to collect bonus card points throughout the year. At the end of the year you can exchange your points for vouchers or use them as payment for presents. Tesco even lets you double up your Clubcard points in one of their Clubcard Boosts (former clubcard exchanges).
Make your Christmas presents
I love receiving homemade Christmas presents. They are much more personal and often cost much less than presents you buy in the shops, so if you enjoy being creative or like cooking and crafting why not make your own Christmas presents. Chutneys, jams, pillows, scarfs or picture frames make beautiful presents and it doesn’t end there. Be creative and save yourself a small fortune!
If all that is not for you, then a savings account that you put a set amount into is definitely something that I would recommend.