You can save money at Christmas

Clipboard01Christmas is a time for splashing out on friends and family, giving extravagant gifts and spoiling your nearest and dearest. But with the economy suffering from the effects of austerity, pay rises frozen and the cost of living rising, many people simply do not have the money they would wish to spend on presents and food this Christmas. However, Christmas is just one day, and there is really no need for families to worry about spending what they haven’t got, you just need to work out your budget, and use our tips to save money. No one will notice the difference!

1. Work out your budget in advance

It is important to know exactly how much money you will need for food and drinks, presents and decoration before you start spending. So make a list of everything you need, and then work out how you are going to pay for it. Whereas food is concerned, check to see if you have any supermarket loyalty vouchers that can go towards your food shop, and see if there are any drinks deals that you can take advantage of.

2. Food

Everyone seems to go mad when it comes to buying the turkey at Christmas, I mean, for the other 364 days of the year, a trip to the supermarket is fine to get your meat, but Christmas seems to bring out the organic farmer in all of us. This is fine if you have £40 odd quid to spend on a bird, but to be honest, I’ve always found it is the cooking that makes the difference, you can dry out a great bird and keep the moisture in a frozen one, so if you are feeling the pinch, buy a frozen turkey and cook it breast down on a low heat before turning over for the last half an hour to crisp the skin up. As with roasties, swap the goose fat for cheaper lard, it gives a great meaty taste and at a fraction of the cost.

3. Can you get free stuff?

If you are starting your Christmas from scratch, and need the essentials such as a Christmas tree and decorations, ask around as some family members may have spare stuff that they don’t mind giving away. Or try looking on freecycle sites such as Freegle, Freecycle and SnaffleUp. Not only do these sites offer free stuff, but if you need extra chairs to fit family members around the table, or secondhand bargains that no one else wants, these are the sites to visit.

4. Make your Christmas presents

If you are good at making jewellery, can knit a nifty jumper, or paint a pretty picture, why not make a handmade gift for your friends and family? One of my favourite gifts last year was a knitted picture of my black and white cat Vinnie against a rainbow coloured garden, it still gives me pleasure today and means so much more than a box of chocolates or smellies. So if you have a talent for being crafty then get started on making personalised gifts for your friends.

5. Make vouchers work for you

Many people still don’t use voucher codes to get money off their purchases but this is a really easy way to get your items for less. Check out bargain websites such as HotUKDeals, VoucherCodes, MyVoucherCodes and VoucherCloud for the best deals on items that you are going to buy anyway.

6. Earn cashback or rewards

It is also possible to earn cashback and rewards via websites such as Quidco and TopCashBack, which pay you money for shopping at certain retailers. So before you use the vouchers above, check to see if you’ll get more off using the cashback offers instead, as sometimes the percentage is larger. It is worth remembering however, that if you opt for the cashback offer, you typically won’t get your money for several months after you have purchased your item, so if you are after an instant saving go for the voucher option.

7. Send free e-cards

I’ve seen many messages from friends on social media sites saying that they are not posting cards this year, instead they are giving the money they are saving to a charity of their choice. That’s a great idea, but you can always send a free e-card instead. Check out our favourite e-card sites, including 123 greetings, Blue Mountain and egreetings. Or if you are quick enough, you can always send your Christmas cards by second-class post.