Christmas tree

Xmas MoneySaving Tips

Don’t plan the perfect Christmas – first work out what you can afford

Before you start planning, consider this: many list every lusted-for item, gifts for all, and a corking meal, then only afterwards consider: “How will I pay for it?” That’s a recipe to be broke.

Instead, calculate your budget (see our free Budget Planner), and ask: “What can I afford to spend on Christmas?” Christmas is one day – don’t ruin the whole of the next year for it.

Agree with friends to ban unnecessary Christmas presents

02write a buy listConsider not giving next Christmas. We’re not talking about gifts from parents or grandparents, but the ever-widening glut of friends, extended family and colleagues.

Christmas isn’t a retail festival – we need to end obliged giving and think more about what we’re giving, to whom and why.

If you’re yelling over your wrapping paper “what about the joy of giving?”, remember gift-giving creates an obligation on recipients to give back, whether they can afford it or not. For some, the gift of “not obliging you to buy for me” is actually better. Read Scrooge McLewis’s blog: Ban unnecessary Christmas gifts.

You could always make a No Unnecessary Present Pact (NUPP) with friends, or at least agree to a Secret Santa or £5 to £10 cap on gifts. If you’re scared to broach this taboo, our free NUPP Tool generates the email for you.

Give charity gifts

Want to give, but don’t want to waste cash on tat? Yule love our rundown of wonderful and weird Charity Gifts, which includes how much goes to good causes.

Gifts start from a few pounds and include school supplies, clean water or livestock.

Switch bank account to get £100+ in time for Xmas

Some banks will bribe you to switch – usually between £100 and £150, but bonuses can be as much as £200. If you sign up in time for Christmas, this could be a decent boost to your budget.

See Best Bank Accounts for a full guide on how to switch accounts, what the best deals are and what sort of account is right for you.

Get a free £100 Amazon voucher in time for Christmas

xmasguide amazon100Spend on a rewards card and it pays you – either in pure cashback or points which can be converted into vouchers for shops, airlines, hotels and more.

Spend £2,000+ on purchases in the first three months with the Amex Rewards Gold charge card and you’ll get 20,000 bonus Membership Rewards points. You can swap these for a £100 gift card for Amazon, M&S, Boots and more (though retailers can change), or airline and hotel loyalty points. You also get two free airport lounge passes, and earn one point per £1 spent on the card.

The card usually has a £140 annual fee, but for now is fee-free in the first year. To avoid paying £140, diarise to cancel before year two starts. Full help in Reward Credit Cards.

Boost funds by 4% with supermarket stamps

Supermarket saving stamp schemes encourage year-long saving for Christmas, yet a loophole allows you to get a year’s bonus in one day.

Most shops pay it depending on how much you’ve saved by a specific day or month. So dunk the cash in the day before, and the store will add up to 4% on top, but the cash must be spent at its shops. Full info in Xmas Spending Boost.

Save with the free Christmas IOU generator

Before Christmas is the year’s costliest shopping time; January sales the cheapest. So if you’re after a big-ticket family purchase such as a telly or games console… wait. Give the kids a nicely wrapped IOU, telling them you’re waiting for the sales.

You could also buy a small extra gift from potential savings to show the benefit of waiting. This way, kids get a triple whammy: the gift, the extra and a lesson in money sense. Use our Christmas IOU Generator.

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