12 Tips to Help Enjoy a Luxury Christmas For Less

Christmas may be just around the corner, but if it’s looking like a strain on the budget then we’ve got a range of useful money-saving tips to help you enjoy the Christmas you love, for even less.

1. Plan before you spend

Making a budget will not only help you to limit your spending, but knowing what exactly you need and how much it will cost can help to reduce your financial anxiety. Especially as many things are more expensive than they were this time last year, it’s worth taking this into account when planning your spending. Set aside how much for gifts, food, drink, leisure, and entertainment, as well as the usual monthly household costs.

2. Keep track of your spending

Once you’ve set a budget, keeping track of your spending means you’re less likely to bust the budget. Whether it’s by using a notebook, an app on your phone or an excel spreadsheet on your laptop, choose a system that works for you. If your bank offers you alerts for when your current account dips below a set amount, opt in.

3. Do ‘family gifts’ or a Secret Santa

If you’ve got a lot of people to buy for, such as extended family and friend groups, suggesting a Secret Santa is a great way to keep costs down. Similarly, buying a ‘family gift’, such as a large box of chocs, tin of biscuits or sweets or a board game, can be a great way to gift to a group rather than buying individual presents.

4. Consider buying secondhand

Buying someone a secondhand present used to be a bit of a no-no, but all that’s changed with a renewed focus on protecting the environment and reducing waste. Shopping secondhand is more sustainable and frugal, and you can find some treasures. If you want to shop for secondhand items online, eBay for Charity is partnered with lots of secondhand charity stores, including British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research and Oxfam.

5. Avoid ‘buy now, pay later’

Tempting as these schemes are, try to avoid them unless you have a plan in place for repaying the loan within the interest-free period. Otherwise, after the 0% phase ends, you’ll be charged an aggressive interest rate and that new sofa, outfit or TV could end up costing you far more. It could have a negative impact on your credit score if you default on payments.

6. Be smart about delivery

Paying supermarket delivery fees can really add up. A delivery pass, where you pay an upfront fee for deliveries from your favourite supermarket, may work out cheaper. Depending on your basket size and frequency of shop, they can save you time and money. If you’re buying a lot from Amazon, it’s probably worth signing up for your 30 day trial of Amazon Prime to get free shipping — just remember to cancel before the 30 days are up.

7. Don’t lose your head over sales

Christmas sales and discounts are great, but they are only a bargain if you were going to buy the product anyway! Keep a clear head and try to resist impulse buys to save the most this Christmas – and one tip you can do is check online for websites that track prices of key products throughout the year so you can see if you’re getting a real bargain or not.

8. Find the cheapest way to send a parcel

If you’re posting presents this year, do your research to find the most cost-effective option. For example, sending a parcel via the Royal Mail at a post office may be more expensive than using their online Royal Mail Click & Drop service. Similarly, look at other delivery specialists and see how you can make a range of savings just by using a different service.

9. Travel home for less

Don’t forget to factor in the cost of getting anywhere this Christmas or the New Year, whether you are visiting family, travelling to shop or attend events.

If you’re going by train, get organised and book ahead to try and save money compared to the price of a walk-on fare bought on the day itself. Similarly, look at altering the times of your journey to save money, with off peak tickets generally being far cheaper than those at peak commuting times. Look at the National Rail website www.nationalrail.co.uk to see how much you could save.

If you’re travelling by car – the cost of fuel at motorway service stations is often considerably more than in locations away from the motorway network, so by planning your journey ahead you can often save yourself a good few pounds in the process. The same goes for electric cars – with variable charging rates across the country, time spent doing the homework beforehand can be most valuable.

10. Use cashback sites

With sites such as Quidco or TopCashback, you can earn money as you shop. Once you’ve set up an account, click on the retailer you want to buy from. You’ll be taken to the retailer’s website to shop as usual but your purchase is tracked and you will earn a percentage of it back. The amount of cashback you earn varies per retailer and transaction, but it can soon add up to a sizeable amount.

11. Join the club

Signing up to a retailer’s newsletter can bag you immediate discounts, such as 10% off your next purchase or free shipping offers – it’s always worthwhile seeing what you can get by joining the loyalty programmes. It’ll also mean that you’re first to hear about Christmas discount events and can sometimes access promotional offers before those who aren’t members of the loyalty programme.

12. Deploy trolley tactics

Load up your online trolley but don’t check out immediately. If stores spot items sitting in your basket, they’ll ask if you forgot to check out and may send you a discount code to persuade you to buy the goods. You’ll need to have entered your email address, so that they can get in touch.

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