By Melanie Wright
The festive season is one of the most expensive times of the year, but there are ways to keep costs to a minimum.
Take advantage of discount codes
Take advantage of discount codes whenever you shop online, and save 10%, 15% or sometimes 20% off at the checkout. Discount code websites include myvouchercodes.co.uk, vouchercodes.co.uk and vouchercloud.com.
Earn cashback when you shop
Do your Christmas shopping through cashback websites and they’ll effectively pay you money every time you shop online. Two of the most popular sites in the UK are Quidco.com and TopCashback.co.uk and both are free to join.
Use loyalty points
If you have any loyalty cards, check how many points you’ve collected and see if you can put them towards any presents. If you have Tesco points, for example, each point is worth 1p if you spend them in store, but if you put them towards Clubcard Boost deals you’ll get triple value for your points.
Homemade gifts show a lot more thought and effort than something you’ve grabbed in the shops, so put your cooking skills to the test and see what you can make. Jams, chutney, homemade biscuits or chocolates, usually all go down well, or if you can sew, you might consider making cushion covers or homemade lavender bags, all for a fraction of the cost of the ones you can buy.
Steer clear of expensive wrapping paper
Use an inexpensive roll of brown paper and a roll of red ribbon to wrap your presents and they’ll look just as stylish as if you’d splashed out on more expensive wrapping. It’s more environmentally friendly too as brown paper can be recycled, whereas paper containing foil or glitter can’t.
Cut postage costs
If you’re sending out lots of Christmas cards, get them done early so you don’t have to pay for first class stamps. Royal Mail’s recommended posting date for cards sent second class is Tuesday 18 December. Sending a card second class in the UK costs 58p, but 67p if you send it first class. That means you’d save nearly £3 in postage costs if you sent 30 cards out second class rather than first class.
Only spend what you can afford
Set yourself a strict budget before you go Christmas shopping. Try to leave credit cards at home when you go out and only take as much cash with you as you’re planning to spend. If you’re already paying a lot of interest on outstanding credit card and loan debts, you might want to consider consolidating these to help reduce the cost of your monthly payments.