First: think realistically about what you can afford
You have to start with a budget and the first question is not ‘Who do I need to buy presents for?’, it’s actually, ‘How much can I afford to spend on everything?’ Everything includes: presents, food, special outings like seeing a pantomime, wrapping, cards, decorations and postage.
Once you have your budget, you can then begin to work out how much you can afford to spend on the seven things listed above. Only then can you begin to think about who you need to buy presents for and begin to put a limit on what you can afford to spend for each person. However, there are some very clever ways to save money at Christmasand here they are.
Save money at Christmas with clever shopping
1. Get cash back on your spending
Sites like TopCashBack in the UK and Ebates in the US offer you the ability to save money at Christmas by giving you the chance to get a sizable rebate on your order. They are linked to thousands of online retailers and all you have to do is visit their site and click through to the shop you want to buy from. Doing this allows you to claim cash back on your purchases. You could save substantially if you do this.
2. Shop early for Christmas
Prices go up the nearer you get to Christmas and sometimes the demand for things is so high shops run out of stock. One easy way to save money at Christmas is to start buying gifts much earlier, especially before the decorations appear in the stores. Check out these toy stores now.
3. Buy refurbished electrical goods
Amazon are a great source for high quality reconditioned electrical goods that come with a guarantee. Tesco have an Outlet Store on eBay and at time of going to press they were selling reconditioned iPad minis with a 12 month guarantee for £30 less than the new one’s from Tesco.com. The Xbox 360 was £30 cheaper on the Tesco Outlet Store but also had a bundle thrown in which the online store didn’t. You can also find equally great bargains at the Ebay Argos Outlet on eBay.
4. Buy used gifts
Again, you can do this on Amazon, eBay, Craigslist and there are plenty of local Facebook sites around too. This is especially good for things like video games, DVDs, videos and electrical goods. Remember if you buy expensive items on eBay to buy them from a business seller and then you are guaranteed to be able to return them if you do not like them.
5. Cheap stocking fillers
One great way to save money at Christmas is to get your stocking fillers from the local discount store. There are lots of bargains to be found in Wilkos and Poundland.
6. Buy good quality batteries in bulk, online with free delivery
You can get 24 Duracell AA batteries on eBay for £7.25 and free delivery – much cheaper than you’ll get at the supermarket and guaranteed to still be working by New Year.
7. Raise cash by selling your old toys on eBay
When your kids grow too old for some of their toys, providing they are in suitable condition, you can sell them on eBay and add some extra funds to your own spending pot. Read the article Christmas Selling on eBay for advice.
8) Save up to 50% by redeeming your supermarket points
At certain times of the year, supermarkets will let you double your money so that £10 in vouchers can be used to buy £20 worth of products. If you have a loyalty card for any store, see if they have such a deal and you could end up paying 50% less if you have enough vouchers saved up.
9) Make your own Christmas presents
There are lots of homemade gifts that can be made for friends and relatives which are easy to produce and a much cheaper alternative to buying.
Saving on Wrapping and Tags
10. Make your own wrapping and tags
You can have a fantastic afternoon of fun with the kids making your own gift tags and wrapping paper. Recycle old Christmas cards to make the tags and get the kids painting, drawing or potato printing to create your own paper. A roll of plain white paper or even cheap lining paper from a DIY store could save you money and get the kids into the festive mood.
11. Shop around to save money
Don’t spend a fortune on wrapping – it only gets ripped up and binned at the end of the day. You can get very good deals if you shop around.
12. Search for unused wrapping in the house
You’re bound to have some left over from last year.
Save money on Christmas food
13. Share the cooking
If you are having a large Christmas gathering you can suggest that everyone brings something for the meal. It takes a little organizing, but if you make a list of what you need, get people to cook it the night before and bring it over, all you have to do is warm it up and serve it out. This way you often get people offering to do their ‘Christmas specials’ and bring what they are really good at and happy to make.
14. Buy Christmas food online
This is a real potential money saver. At Christmas, we all get tempted by all the glittery things in store that we don’t really need. If you buy online there’s much less impulsive buying.
Two other great advantages to shopping online are that as you spend online it tallies up how much you’ve spent – so if you have set yourself a budget you can take things off or look for cheaper solutions. It’s hard to do this when you are at the checkout. Most people are too embarrassed to take things back once its on the conveyor belt.
Finally, you won’t have to deal with the supermarket stampede at Christmas or wait two hours in the queue and come home with a banging headache wishing there was no such thing as Christmas. If you do go, don’t take the kids, it’ll cost you a whole lot more – you know this!
15. Don’t overstock the Christmas fridge
How big does that Turkey really need to be? When you buy, be realistic about what is actually going to get eaten and what is going to end up in the bin. It’s estimated that up to 40% of food gets thrown away uneaten – this can be worse if we over buy at Christmas. Do you really need such a wide variety of vegetables or so many different meats? Did you actually finish last year’s bottle of sherry or did most of it get poured down the drain? You don’t really like it that much anyway, do you?
16. Buy food early and freeze it
As things get more expensive nearer to Christmas, get the most expensive things now. You are spending the cost by doing this and saving on last minute buys. A joint of meat will last for months in the freezer.
How to save money on Christmas outings
There are lots of things going on around Christmas time and it’s great to go as a family to enjoy them. But it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
17. Go to places where it won’t cost you anything to go
Christmas fairs and carol concerts are just some of the many free festive events you’ll find in your local area. Don’t forget to see all the Christmas things that your child’s school might be putting on too.
18. Take the less expensive option
Paying £25 a head to see some has-been soap star playing an ugly sister in the town’s main theatre is an expensive night out. A smaller production at you local arts centre is likely to feel much more festive and is a great way to save money at Christmas whilst supporting local arts.
If you want the full panto effect, screaming kids, panto dames and corney jokes, then opt for your local amateur dramatic society instead. It’ll be just as much fun as the main panto in town, but won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
19. Look online for a deal
There are plenty of voucher sites out there that will give you money off or family discount. Discount sites like Groupon or Wowcher could save you a small fortune. You can also save by grouping up with other families and getting a group booking discount also.
20. Eat out early
Once the office Christmas party season starts, restaurant prices go up. If you are planning to take your kids out for a meal then you can save money at Christmas by looking for early bird specials. This way you will save money, still get home fairly early to put them to bed at a reasonable time and won’t have to explain your kids why drunken Pete from IT is belly dancing on the table.
Save money on Christmas decorations
21. Christmas tree choices
The main decoration in any house is the Christmas tree. Fake Christmas trees are not everyone’s cup of tea, but they are worth consideration. Although they may initially be more expensive, you can use them year after year; they don’t litter your house with needles; and you don’t have the hassle of having to take them to be recycled or pay for someone to take them away. Granted, they do not give off that seasonal scent or look quite as authentic, though some look real enough.
If you are going for a real Christmas tree, then do shop around, you may find local garden centres do a better deal than the big stores. Do make sure it will fit your car and house before you buy it.
22. Make your own festive decorations
A brilliant idea for a Sunday at the beginning of December would be to spend the morning in the woods looking for pine cones, holly, ivy, mistletoe and unusual bits of twig or bark. You can then spend the afternoon with the kids transforming them into decorations by painting the cones and twigs and making a Christmas wreath. As darkness sets in, decorate the house with them. There’s also sorts of ideas to help you here
Save money on Christmas cards
23. Make your own Christmas cards
Again, you can have hours of fun getting the kids to make your cards for you. Blank cards and envelopes can be bought cheaply at craft and stationery stores. Plenty of sticking and gluing, drawing and painting can be done here.
Another alternative is to print out some pictures off the internet, stick them to the card and sprinkle over with glitter.
24. Save money at Christmas with photo cards
A lot of people tend to get their own designs printed. There are lots of online places where you can upload your own design and have it personalised. Do be aware that the prices they advertise to get you through the door are not always what you will pay at the end. They do not include VAT, postage or other hidden extras. Do shop around.
25. Find cards in Charity shops
Saying that, you can buy some cards very cheaply, and one way to get them exceptionally cheap is to get them from charity stores, particularly when out of season. Before you buy any, make sure to look around the house first for the ones you didn’t use last year.
Save money on Christmas postage
Whether it’s cards or presents, most of us will be putting something into the post box this Christmas. With the cost of postage rising, this can add up, so here are some helpful tips on how to keep the cost down.
26. Use family and friend mail first
My family never posts Christmas cards – we just pass them on in bulk to a relative we know will see them before Christmas. So, cards for my cousins and their children will go to my aunts and uncles to disperse and cards for my aunts and uncles will go to my mum. In return, she gets the cards for me from my aunts and uncles and extended family. Not a penny to the post office. Thanks mum!
27. Post in bulk
If you are posting cards, another way to save money at Christmas is to send them all to one person who you know will see the people whose cards you’ve put in with theirs. It’s significantly less expensive than sending individually.
28. Post early
If you are posting abroad, do it early so you can send it more cheaply and if you have gifts to send abroad, consider sending money or a voucher which will cost much less than the price of a package.
29. Save money at Christmas with alternative shipping companies
Parcels can be pricey things to post, especially if they are large or heavy. If this is the case then shop around. As anyone who sells on eBay will tell you, there are a lot of smaller shipping companies who have set up over the last few years who will pick up from your door and deliver for you.
30) Use UShip
UShip is a website where you let tell them what you are delivering and where to and then couriers bid to provide you with the cheapest deal. I’ve used this a few times and you’ll be surprised by the number of bids you get and the prices get lower and lower as more people bid.
If you have any great ideas to save money at Christmas please share them with us in the comments below.
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