Counting the cost of Christmas: How to save money
Save money this Christmas with help from Simple Fast Loans…
Christmas is probably going to be very different this year. None of us will know till nearer the time what Covid restrictions will be in place, and therefore what we will and will not be able to do. So at this stage we don’t know whether we will be able to meet with family and friends.
It has also been a very difficult year financially for many of us. So, however we do end up celebrating Christmas, we may need to tighten our belts much more than usual this year.
With this in mind, Simple Fast Loans want to bring you our Top Five Tips to help you save money this Christmas.
Get making a list – and checking it twice
OK, our first tip is stolen straight from the lyrics of Santa Claus is Coming to Town! But who better than Santa to learn from for the festive season?
The point is that unless you plan your Christmas spending, you are almost guaranteed to spend far too much. So start by making a list of everything that, ideally, you would want to buy for Christmas. This includes presents, cards, postage, decorations, wrapping paper, and all your food and drink.
Then once you have your list, do what Santa says and check it twice. If you don’t have enough money for everything on the list then you need to start deciding where you can cut down spending and save money. Some things may need to go altogether. Maybe for just this year, but people will understand.
It is much better to face your financial realities upfront than to keep spending money that you haven’t got on things that you don’t really need. Planning ahead is the best way to prevent you starting off 2021 in a big financial mess.
Ask the family
Whether or not you are able to meet family this Christmas, you can still work together to make it a great time for everyone. If you are struggling financially at the moment, you are not alone: others will be in the same boat. So why not try and help each other out as much as you can.
If you normally all buy presents for each other, how about suggesting that this year you just buy presents for the children? Or instead of all the adults buying presents for each other, you organise a Secret Santa between you this time.
If you do end up getting together over the festive season, then it would also be fair for everyone to contribute something to the food and drink so that whoever is hosting doesn’t have to do all the spending this year.
Eat, drink and save money
On the subject of eating and drinking, there are lots of ways in which you can save money on your festive food and drink. Whether you are catering for one person or twenty, It is so easy to end up with a huge amount of food waste over Christmas. If you think of this as tipping money straight into the bin it should make you even more determined to avoid it this year.
Again, the key is planning ahead. Decide on what your menus are going to be, and just buy what you need for those meals. You can start buying food now, particularly non-perishable food, tinned goods and frozen items. Taking your time to do food shopping gradually can help you to find bargains along the way and spread the cost, rather than getting caught up in the usual last minute panic buying frenzy.
When planning food, also think carefully about portion sizes to help you avoid overbuying. When you think of Christmas dinner, most people have far too much on their plates and end up leaving a lot of food. The website Love Food Hate Waste has a wealth of information about how to get portion sizes right, and also lots of recipes to help you use up leftovers creatively.
Save money on presents
Presents are still probably the part of Christmas that costs the most. So this year, do your very best to stick within budget. We all know it’s the thought that counts, but still tend to panic at the last minute in case we haven’t got enough, and rush round on Christmas Eve buying little extra gifts.
So this year, why not try one of these ideas to save money on Christmas presents?
Black Friday bargains
Black Friday is on Friday 27th November this year. If you know exactly what you are looking for and won’t get distracted, then there could be some amazing bargains to be had. So keep this date in mind to hunt down some specific deals on your Christmas shopping.
As well as Black Friday, it is definitely worth researching different stores and the best prices they can do on the things you are looking for. Many stores have either pre-Christmas sales or limited special offers. So browse their websites and also price comparison websites to see what you can find. It’s also a good idea to Google whether there are any voucher sites such as Groupon with additional offers on what you are looking for.
We just mentioned looking at voucher sites for special offers on your purchases, but do check your home for gift vouchers too. Many of us have gift vouchers lying around somewhere that we’ve never used. So you could either use these to help pay for your Christmas shopping or cash them in on online sites such as Card Yard.
Online selling sites
There are a wide variety online websites that enable you to buy goods from others, either brand new or hardly used. Two of the better known ones are eBay and Facebook Marketplace but there are many others. These sites can be a great place to buy gifts at bargain prices, and can also enable you to make a bit of extra money by selling on your unwanted items.
Don’t overlook the option of some kind of homemade gift. They are often appreciated far more than a mass-produced gift. So if you have any creative talent then why not put it to good use? Some examples could be to bake, knit, sew, paint, write poetry or record music. Whatever you do, it will be a lovely and unique gift that will cost you time but not much money.
Another variant of this is to offer your time as a gift. Prepare a hand made gift voucher that offers the recipient your time to do something nice for them. Whether this is cooking them a wonderful meal, doing their hair, knitting them a jumper, or looking after their kids for a weekend, it could mean so much more than a shop-bought gift.
The last post
Even though there has been a gradual trend away from Christmas cards over the past few years, this may well change this year as people have the desire to reconnect with others that they have not been able to see for a while. But postage costs can add up and become really expensive: sometimes more than the actual cards themselves.
So it’s a bit of a dilemma, but the first thing to do is to make sure you stick to the postage deadlines. This year the deadline for 2nd class post within the UK is Friday 18th December. So don’t miss that because you will then have to pay 1st class postage instead. You can check all the Royal Mail last posting dates here.
Another option is to buy a smaller number of special Christmas cards on sites like Moonpig that will also deliver. You can also email cards to people who are happy to receive them that way.
We hope that our tips enable you to prepare for Christmas knowing that you can also save money and get 2021 off to the best possible start. Let’s face it, that’s what we need after the year 2020 has been!
Remember to check back here soon for more money saving and lifestyle tips from Simple Fast Loans.