We’ve put together the second part of money saving tips that can help you cope with Christmas!
- Plan your presents: We often end up spending more than we intended on Christmas presents because we start to panic and buy things without thinking them through. Have a think before you hit the shops about what you might buy for who and set a budget for each person.
- Don’t go overboard: Try to allot an amount of money you will spend on the kids and don’t be hooked into the notion that children ‘need’ the latest high-tech gadget or toy, and that if you don’t buy it you’ll be a bad parent. In the run-up to Christmas ask the children to make a Christmas list, including one really special item that they really, really want – tell them to think about their choice carefully as that will be their main present.
- Use last year’s party dress: Rather than splashing out on a new dress, fish out your one from last year and see if you can update it. Just adding a belt or some new jewellery will make it feel special again. Or you can swap something with a friend or family member. You’ll feel like you’ve been to the shops, but without having to spend a penny.
- Boxing Day soup: Christmas Day is over and some of the turkey has been devoured, don’t throw the bones away! Get them in a big pot with an onion, stick of celery, herbs and any veggies peelings you’ve got saved from lunch prep. Fill to the top with water add any leftover gravy and then bring to the boil. Once bubbling, stick a lid on and simmer for as long as you can – three or more hours is great. Turn the heat off and leave it to go cold overnight. On Boxing Day, sieve out the bones and veggies and you’ll be left with a delicious stock for lunch.
- Fill up stocking space: Pad stockings with things that you would have to buy or replace each year, like wellies, underwear, pyjamas, stationary, shampoo and soaps.
- Don’t go crazy on Boxing Day: The Christmas sales will be in full flow on Boxing Day, but try not to overdo it on the credit card, particularly if you’ve already slapped a lot on it pre-Christmas. Shop sensibly and don’t buy something that doesn’t fit just because it is at reduced price.
- Make your own Christmas presents: If you’ve got a particular talent or skill, use it for Christmas presents! Whether it’s knitting, making a cross-stitch picture in a frame or doing some baking, don’t spend money on gifts if you can make something more special yourself.
- Ask for gift receipts: It won’t help you cut costs, but it will stop you wasting money on something someone isn’t able to use. A gift receipt lets the recipient take the item back with (hopefully) minimum hassle, but won’t give away how much you spent until they do. Just pop it in discreetly with the present.
- Only use offers you need: While offers can save you loads of money, beware of buying things you need just because they’re on offer. If you end up spending on things that are just going to go to waste, then it’s not a good deal. Although we love a great deal, always think carefully before you bag that bargain.
- Give photos as gifts: Photos are a great gift for family members – a nice snap in a frame can make a lovely, cheap present. Websites like Photobox and Snapfish will allow you to print pictures very cheaply and you can buy novelty gifts like mugs and calendars with your pictures on them.
- Get crafty with the kids: Get the kids to make their own Christmas decorations and you’ll save money. This will also keep them out of trouble for a few hours. Either go with something simple like paper chains, or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, try making some Christmas paper cards or Christmas Wreath.
- Send e-cards instead of paper Christmas cards: Send hundreds of e-cards for free, and even personalise them with your photos. You can also send them in conjunction with a charity such as the NSPCC (christmas.nspcc.org.uk/e-cards) or Macmillan (www.macmillan.org.uk/Donate/Ecards) if you want to make a small donation.
- See what decorations you have left: Before going out and buy new decorations, check the loft, garage, cupboard, and under the stairs to see what you’ve still got stashed away from last year. There are bound to be a few things you’ve forgotten about and it will save you from buying anything you don’t need.
- Save on postage: If you plan to send Christmas cards to friends and family members through the post rather than via email, plan ahead. Where possible, try to deliver by hand. A first class stamp costs 60p on standard size post of up to 100g in weight. A second class stamp costs 50p, so it’s worth ensuring you send out your greetings in time to catch the second class deadline where possible.
- Post 2nd class: Post any cards and parcels 2nd class and you’ll save a bit of pocket money. Just make sure you post them by 18th December for them to get to UK addresses in time for Christmas Day.
- Save on voice calls: Avoid pushing up your phone bill by using services like Skype via your PC or laptop. As long as your friends and family members are on Skype too, your calls be will free. If you don’t have a landline and are on the go with your mobile then use Fring to make cheaper calls through Wi-Fi, or if you’ve got an iPhone download the Skype application to call abroad even when you’re not at your computer screen.
- New Year’s resolution: Come January, and next Christmas will seem a long way off, yet it’ll be back before you know it. So it’s a good idea to put a saving plan in place to help fund Christmas 2014. You could open a savings account, and funnel a few pounds into it via a direct debit each payday. Over the course of a year, you could accumulate a tidy sum that will go a long way towards making funding for next Christmas less painful.
With these saving tips and a little bit of effort you can save money this holiday season. It’s important to remember the reason for the season. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, keep the holiday spiritual message in the forefront of your mind. Rather than spending the weekends leading up to Christmas at the mall, spend that time bonding with family. You can see the first set of Christmas saving tips HERE.