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If you’re someone that really struggles to save for Christmas here are my tips for getting started early, finding gifts for free and not spending your savings pot.
Trying to save for Christmas can be really hard. Especially if you’re on a low income, in debt, or generally struggling to make ends meet. It can be all so easy to start the year with the best intentions, ‘I will save X amount each month’ or ‘I will buy saving stamps each week’ but then other stuff comes up. If you have kids it’s more than likely they need new school uniform, or have school trips that need paying for. Then there’s birthdays and friends birthday parties and all that cash you were going save for Christmas suddenly disappears into a multitude of other essentials. You try not think about Christmas or how you’re going to pay for it because you know you should be saving for it but simply can’t afford to.
Sound familiar? I want to show you some easy ways to start preparing for Christmas now that cost very little but should help you boost your budget come December.
Source as many gifts as you can for free
Don’t feel that you have to spend money for a gift to have any value. There are so many ways to source things for free that can be made into or used as gifts that won’t cost you a penny. Starting to think about Christmas now rather than in late November/ Early December should give you plenty of time for some serious freebie hunting. I am always on the lookout for a bargain and I hope to only spend around £100 on Christmas presents this year.
Facebook groups and Freecycle can be fantastic for sourcing larger items for free. They may need a little work or some upcycling but it’s amazing what people are giving away for nothing.
Homemade gifts are also often a welcome change. This year we made jam using blackberries we had foraged and sugar we got for free from the shopping app Checkoutsmart.
There is no shame in regifting things either – just be careful not to give it back to the person who gave it to you! This is also a great way to reuse any duplicate gifts you or your children may have received.
There are some great Facebook pages that constantly update with bargains, freebies and glitches, well worth keeping an eye out for. My favourites are Savvy Deals UK and Latest Deals. I put them on ‘See First’ so I never miss a deal.
I love this post about a lady who gave her children Loo Roll tubes for Christmas although I think some might consider it a step too far!
Use Phone Apps
There are a multitude of apps that allow you to pick up all sorts of things for free. Here I am going to focus on ones that don’t require spending any money at all. On many of the shopping apps you buy the item and are then reimbursed, which is fine, if you have the surplus cash in the first place.
Mecari – Mercari is a new shopping app that is similar to eBay. Recently new sign ups to the app were given £3 free credit to use and an additional £3 for every friend referred. After a few referrals I was able to order a few bits and pieces for my Christmas Cupboard completely free. The sign up and referral fee have now been reducded to £1 but if you can refer a few friends and family with your code you could still snag a few freebies. My code is YEFGJZ if you’d like £1 credit when you sign up.
O2 Prioirty – The O2 Priority moments app is great for freebies through out the year. These range from free chocolate to free beauty products. In my opinion the best thing to look out for is free Benefit products usually redeemable in Boots or Debenhams. They also have a few freebies that just require paying P&P. Plus free subscription products which you will need to cancel once you receive the free one.
Boots App – The boots app sometimes has free products such as shower gel and make up. It is also a great way to boost your points as there are often points boosters when you buy certain products, great if you were planning on buying them anyway. I don’t actually use my Boots points on Christmas Presents in December. I always save them until the 70% off sale starts in mid January and use them for next years gifts.
Use Coupons to buy Saving stamps/Gift Vouchers
If you’re not someone who usually uses coupons and vouchers this could be a great way to save money for Christmas without actually spending a penny. I’m going to use Farm foods as an example because I am always getting leaflets through my door with money off coupons – but this could also work in places like Sainsbury’s too, anywhere that has conditional spend vouchers.
Example: You get a leaflet through the door with a voucher for £2.50 off a £25 spend in Farmfoods. You would normally spend £40 on your weekly shop there – you can afford to spend this much and have budgeted for it. Use the £2.50 to get the £2.50 off your shop then ask for £2.50 to be added to a gift card.
You are spending the same amount of money but adding £2.50 to a gift card to use at Christmas. Repeat once a month or however often you shop. As you are spending the minimum for the discount to be applied to your shop this should work. Keep the voucher in your purse top up whenever you shop.
I think this method works well for people who struggle to save cash for Christmas. Or those who find it difficult not dipping into a savings pot for everyday things.
Boost Loyalty Points
Boosting loyalty points is a great way to Save for Christmas and make your cash go further. For me Nectar is the place I earn and spend the most points. Where I spend so little on my weekly shop the majoirty of my points come from buying petrol (Sainsbury’s is clostest and usually cheapest, I don’t go there just for the points) and I have linked my nectar card to my eBay account so I earn points there too. There is also the option to go online and add points bonuses to your shop.
The biggest way I make the most out of my nectar points though is by never using to pay for my weekly shop. In late November nectar usually have a points double up that allows you to get a voucher worth double what the points would be worth in groceries. This usually includes entertainment such as DVDs and Computer Games, homeware and clothing and toys and board games and seasonal items. The process and rules for this can be a little complicated as you can only spend so much in each category, but I still think it’s worth doing.
Last Christmas I Boosted £15 worth of nectar Points to £30 on entertainment. I had to pay just £5 towards an Xbox one game for my brother. This can be a great way to save on expensive computer games.
Use Cashback as a Christmas Savings Fund
If you’re not already a member of a cashback site or two then why not? It’s an easy way to earn money on purchases you would be making anyway. Simply go to a cashback site such as Topcashback or Quidco, find the retailer you plan to use and the click through to their site. Cashback can often take a few weeks to be paid but that’s why this is a great way save for Christmas, by the end of the year you could have a nice little pot of money waiting to be used.
It is recommended that any money earned through these sites is taken out straight away just in case they go bust and your funds are are at risk. I would advise setting up a separate online bank account to transfer this money to. You can also request for the payment to be in various high street shopping vouchers which benefit from a slight bonus rate. This is another good option for those not so good at saving cash.
I hope these tips help you save for Christmas and see there are ways to make a start even when you don’t have much spare cash.
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