How to save money this Christmas
Christmas can be an expensive time of year. Unnecessary amounts of food need to be sourced, travel arrangements made and of course, the presents. It’s something that has become so commonplace that people rarely stop and think about whether or not there’s a cheaper way to do it. As with everything, there certainly is. That’s why we’ve put together a quick and easy guide to ensure that you can enjoy a very merry Christmas without declaring bankruptcy in January.
Plan your food
This one can’t be overstated enough. Each year 270,000m tonnes of food gets thrown away over the festive period. Not only is this a terrible waste but it also represents a huge amount of unnecessary spending. The important thing here is not to panic. Most people will overbuy out of an irrational fear that there won’t be enough for everyone. A bit of planning and understanding how many people are coming should be able to solve this. Ensuring you have ample fridge / freezer space will also help in storing leftover bits and pieces.
Shop around for deals
When shopping for Christmas presents, decorations or food it can be tempting to buy as soon as you see a half decent deal. This is especially true in the build up to the big day, as panic sets in that this might really be the last turkey left on the planet. Taking time to examine and compare prices will help chip away at your Christmas expenses. When you find a great deal you’ll also get this special warm feeling which can only be achieved by saving 15% on socks.
Take advantage of discount codes
At this time of year, discount codes and vouchers are in no short supply. Before you buy something online, there are a few ways to get it cheaper.
If you're going to be shopping somewhere for the first time, you can often be referred by an existing customer. This means that if they recommend you then you both get some type of reward. Make sure you understand terms & conditions, however, as there are often specific steps that need to be followed to be eligible.
New customer code
If you haven’t shopped somewhere before then you can often get a discount for being a first time buyer. You may have to sign up to a mailing list, but considering everyone's inbox is full of junk at Christmas anyway, what’s the difference?
Sometimes you can find vouchers for online stores that aren’t readily available to the public, but still work. A simple search of (company name) + discount code will throw up numerous different websites peddling discount codes. Many won’t work but if you're really after a deal you could get lucky. Browser plugins like Honey automatically scour the internet for suitable codes so are always worth having in your arsenal.
Set a price limit
If you're one of those people who needs to buy presents for dozens of people each year, it can add up. It can start getting really out of control if your circle enjoys the finer things in life. That’s why setting a reasonable limit on the price of presents is such a good idea. As well as providing some fiscal relief it forces people to put more thought into what they buy as simply throwing money as the situation is no longer an option.
Another way to mitigate ruinous present spending is secret Santa. The concept, (which we’re sure you are aware of) involves a group of people all purchasing a gift for one other person in the circle. The name of course indicates that no one knows who bought who what. Almost always coming with some sort of spending cap, it allows for cheap and cheerful presents, often meant as a hilarious Christmas joke. The anonymous nature of the proceedings also allows the gifts to be used as ways of taking subtle digs at your nearest and dearest through the medium of gifting. Assuming you're that kind of person.
If you're artsy then you can make something yourself. One of the great things about this is because it comes from the heart. Therefore, the recipient of the gift can’t complain if it’s not very good. Explaining the hard work and dedication of the gift is key here. If you are able to get across the hours you put into it - when in reality you just wrapped some tinsel around a stick - you're unlikely to get called out.
One of the dark arts of Christmas presents is recycling gifts, or re-gifting as it’s technically known. This involves taking relatively unused presents, packaging them up and giving them to unsuspecting friends and family. As long as the present fits the individual and isn’t a moth-eaten scarf from three years ago, it can still be a meaningful gift to give. The one thing you will want to avoid at all costs is re-gifting someone a present they bought you last year. If you're planning to do it en masse, maybe set up a spreadsheet to avoid any uncomfortable moments round the fire.
Arrange a non-present buying pact
An arrangement that can save you hundreds of pounds, a non-present agreement is a social construct as old as commercialism itself. If you find yourself in a gift rutt with someone, e.g they get you something you don’t want and vice versa, why bother? Sit down with a glass of wine and explain the futility of the situation. Hopefully they feel the same way. If successful, it will not only save you money on unnecessary gifts, but valuable time and energy. Most importantly by removing the painful annual tradition of opening a colouring book from your hopeless uncle and having to feign delight.