The run-up to Christmas traditionally puts a chill on purses and wallets – and with households under further pressure from rising living costs, this year could prove a particular struggle.
After many people missed out on the excitement of being with friends and family last year, it might be tempting to go all out this time around.
To help keep spending under control and save some cash in the coming weeks, Al Ward, head of customer savings at abrdn, shares his 12 saves of Christmas:
1. Revisit lockdown saving habits
“With social events off limits, the lockdowns did help some people put more money away than usual.
“If your direct debits, subscriptions and coffees during the daily commute have started creeping up again, perhaps try to cut out some discretionary expenses where possible – it could save more money than you realise.”
2. Save at the start of the month
“Try to put some of your monthly salary away as soon as you’re paid. If it’s not sitting in a current account, the likelihood of spending it will hopefully be reduced. For example, if you can afford to, you could start the month by putting €50 of your salary into your savings.”
3. Time to switch
“It may be tough to find cheaper energy deals at the moment, but there could be other switches you could make – whether it’s your mobile phone tariff, TV packages or your current account. Many gyms often unveil special deals around the Christmas and New Year periods. Even if you’re happy with your existing provider, you could still see what else is on offer and use that to haggle a better deal.”
4. Resist the urge to splurge
“At this time of year, it can be particularly tempting to put purchases on credit cards or use buy now pay later schemes, and then worry about the costs later.
“No one wants to start the new year with a debt hangover, so plan a budget to help avoid the risk of overspending.”
5. Opt for a Secret Santa with family members
“Although many of us would only associate Secret Santa with co-workers, this option can be an ideal way for the adults of the family to give gifts – and it could make postage costs cheaper with fewer gifts to send.”
6. Go paperless with cards
“Keep costs down by sending friends and family Christmas e-cards. Many websites allow you to pick or design your own, and this year could be the perfect chance to start doing this.”
7. Buy festive meals in advance
“Embrace the own brand wonderland of discount supermarkets and stock up on food well before Christmas and freeze it.”
8. Plan ahead and book your travel
“If you’re travelling at Christmas, Trainline’s split-ticketing app feature (thetrainline.com) can help you find cheaper tickets on a long journey. It is also worth checking your eligibility for a railcard. Booking your train trip early could also get you a cheaper price as well as more choice.”
9. Celebrate at ho-ho home
“Get creative and host a Christmas-themed evening from the comfort of your home, bringing friends together for a cheaper and cosier occasion.”
10. Make a list – and check it twice
“Keeping track of everything you need to get ahead of your festive celebrations and everything you already have at home can make the shopping process much smoother and less stressful.
“This way, you can save yourself from buying unnecessary purchases that can be tempting while browsing the high street stores or scrolling online.”
11. Keep an eye out for those unmissable discounts
“There are always lots of online deals and discount codes around Christmas. Try not to panic-buy as you never know what you might find after a little digging in the snowy blizzard that is the pre-Christmas sales.”
12. Haven’t used it since last Christmas? Then flog it!
“Who says you can’t tackle a thorough spring clean in the winter months?
“A good way to fund and save money at Christmas is to sell some of your own possessions. Have a root around in your cupboards for anything you can get rid of, and sell on online websites such as eBay (ebay.co.uk) or Facebook Marketplace (facebook.com/marketplace).
“It’s also worth stockpiling any unwanted Christmas pressies Santa brings you this year, so you can either pass them on or sell them.
“In January, why not set up a savings account to start putting regular amounts away for next year? That way, you should ease some financial stress for Christmas 2022.”