The Christmas countdown: how to avoid a financial hangover during the festive season

Last year, the Centre of Retail Research and Vouchercodes reported that British families were set to spend an average £821.25 on Christmas – over a third more than our European neighbours.

Although welcome news for the high-street which has been plagued by economic uncertainty ahead of Brexit, the UK’s love for an old fashioned Christmas knees-up is set to make a dent in our finances.

Consumer group, Which?, recently conducted a Twitter pole and asked members if they had started saving for Christmas. Nearly a quarter (74%) of those who voted admitted they hadn’t.

So, how can you save money and budget this Christmas?

Below, we have a few suggestions to help start you off.

Start saving now

It’s never too late to start saving for the Christmas season. It might feel like summer has only just passed, but spreading the cost of Christmas over a couple of months will help relieve any financial stress over the festive period. Work out how much you can afford to spend over Christmas in total – including any work parties, decorations and secret Santa gifts – and budget. The Money Advice Service has a Christmas-specific budget planner which can help you prioritise your spending.

You should consider opening a savings account, such as our easy access Welcome to Newbury account, for big, expensive events such as Christmas, which gives you access to your money whenever you need it while earning interest. Once the Christmas season is over, you can then utilise the account for other events such as a summer holiday later in the year. You might be surprised to see how quickly your savings can grow.

Start buying presents now

Try not to leave your Christmas shopping to the last minute and start buying sooner rather than later. Not only will it spread out the Christmas costs over a couple of months, it means you can capitalise on any seasonal sales and snap up a few bargains along the way.

Use a cashback website

In 2017, it was suggested individuals were set to spend £244 on gifts alone, with alcohol, jewellery and books the most popular present choices, therefore, make your money work harder by checking whether the retailer you are buying from is listed on a cashback site.

Popular cashback websites such as Quidco and TopCashback, in simple terms, pays its members a percentage of money earned when they purchase goods and services through an affiliate link. You browse the site and choose from its bank of retailers – including the likes of Tesco, Marks and Spencer and Argos - click the URL and shop as usual. You earn commission for your purchase.

Not just for online purchases, many cashback sites also let you earn money back on your groceries by downloading their smartphone app. All you need to do is chose the offer you want, take a photo of your receipt and upload it through the app. Money will then be added to your account once confirmed. It might not be a lot but a few quid can add up very quickly.

Reputable sites are normally free to sign-up to with premium memberships available if you want it, however if you are ensure, read MoneySavingExpert’s excellent guide for further information.

Cash in your loyalty points

Many of our favourite high-street retailers have a loyalty system which rewards you for everyday spending with them. To help relieve pressure on your bank balance, why not use up your hard earned points to purchase Christmas gifts and food? After all, as a popular supermarket once said “every little helps”.

Popular reward schemes include:

  • The Boots Advantage Card rewards shoppers with 4 points for every £1 spent instore and online, with one point equal to one penny
  • Nectar allows you to collect points from a variety of partners such as VUE cinema, Debenhams and Apple for money off your next purchase
  • Tesco Clubcard gives you one point per £1 spent in stores and online. You can also earn points through Tesco partnerships such as TopCashback
  • Marks and Spencer Sparks card rewards you with 10 points every time you shop and 25 points if you leave a review on its website. The scheme also donates to a charity of your choice
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