With the cost-of-living crisis set to worsen as we head into the colder months and energy bills go up, it can be tempting to bury your head in the sand and worry about Christmas costs later. But you can act to save money for Christmas.
We shared some tips for planning Christmas early in September, but with times so tight it is understandable if you didn’t manage that. However, it’s not too late to make Christmas more reasonable in terms of money,
We asked finance experts for their top tips on how to budget and find the best deals ahead of the festive season…
Save money for Christmas
1. Set a budget
The first step to making sure you stay within your means this Christmas is to create a budget and stick to it.
“Whether you prefer jotting the figures down on paper or creating a spreadsheet online, write down all of the costs you’ll need to cover over the festive season, such as food, presents, decorations and travel,” says Brean Horne, personal finance expert at comparison site NerdWallet. “Remember to include any events or outings you might attend, such as Christmas parties, ice skating or even visiting a Christmas market.”
After each purchase or event, make sure to list how much it cost.
“Many people get whisked away by the buzz of the festive season and forget to check in with their budget,” says Salman Haqqi, personal finance editor from Money.co.uk. “Future you would be much happier if you track your expenses as you go, so you don’t end up overspending and ruining this month’s and next month’s budget.”
2. Prioritise your expenses
It’s not always easy to estimate exactly how much each present or experience will cost in advance, but it can help to prioritise the items on your budget into essential and non-essential. This is key to helping save money for Christmas.
“For example, groceries are a high priority, while going ice skating may be lower down the list,” says Horne. “Where possible, try to find cheaper alternatives or cut down on your non-essential costs. For example, hosting a dinner party instead of going out for a meal, or finding free festive events.”
3. Take advantage of autumn offers
If you wait until December to start your shopping, you may miss out on some of the biggest discounts retailers offer all year. (Just don’t be tempted to blow the budget just because something’s on sale!)
“Black Friday (November 25) and Cyber Monday (November 28) are sales periods where you can take advantage of cheaper prices for your Christmas shopping,” says Haqqi, with some offers continuing across the long weekend.
Horne adds: “Setting up price alerts online can help you track the cost of your gifts and buy them when they reach your ideal price. Some retailers such as ASOS periodically offer flash sales, during which you can buy most items at a discounted price too.”
4. Christmas cashback
Cashback sites may be a great way to get extra savings on gifts from big name brands. “The site will get paid for sending traffic to the store and you’ll get some of it back, [potentially] saving many people £100s on their Christmas shopping bill,” Haqqi says. “It’s a good idea to search for the cheapest deal, and then check to make sure that cashback is available. You can also use a cashback credit card, earning you cashback on your purchases.”
5. Set a gift limit
With so many people feeling the financial strain, there’s no better time to chat to friends and family about cutting back on unnecessary presents.
“Why not try a family Secret Santa this year?” says Haqqi. “Simply pop all the names into a hat and have everyone pick out one person to buy for. Family members could even write down their top three preferred gifts, so no one can be disappointed.”
Horne suggests setting a spending limit for gifts: “It’s important to remember that gift-giving isn’t a numbers game, so being selective over what you buy ensures you get someone what they truly want and can help you cut costs too.”
6. Use voucher codes
Before you buy anything, check if there are any discount codes available for that brand or retailer. This will help you save money for Christmas
“Websites such as SuperSavvyMe offer a wide range of voucher codes,” says Horne. “It’s also worth looking for discounts in supermarket magazines, promotional packets and other online discount sites to help you save money.”