How can I save money for Christmas?
If you are reading this while still in shorts and T-shirts, well done for being one step ahead!
Only got a few weeks or days left before the holidays? Don’t worry, you can still benefit from a few tips to save money this Christmas, and get a head start for next year.
With the recession hitting globally post COVID-19, many households are struggling to make ends meet.
Christmas can potentially add fuel to the fire if you are already on a tight budget.
But the good news is, celebrating Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive.
… which is why, I have curated 17 Guaranteed Money Saving Ideas for Christmas, so you can enjoy the holiday spirit without breaking the bank.
1. Start Christmas Planning Early
First and foremost on the list of money saving ideas for Christmas is to START EARLY.
If you let those shop decorations and Christmas songs remind you “hey, it’s Christmas and you better start shopping for presents, NOW”, you are already behind the eight ball.
It’s never too early to start planning for the next Christmas financially (see idea #17).
If you are on a tight budget, start the process in June-July which will give you more time to save up.
As a minimum, start planning in Sept, will still give you over 3 months to save and shop around for good deals.
So if there’s one thing you can take away from this list of money-saving ideas for Christmas, please let this be the one.
2. Have Christmas on a Budget
The next idea on how to save money for Christmas is to start with a budget.
But how much money should you save for Christmas?
“A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 1% of your overall income on the holidays” according to Kirk Jewell, a certified financial planner and founder of Global Financial Services. So if your combined household income is £100,000 a year, then aim to NOT EXCEED £1,000 as your budget.
This includes all expenses such as presents, food, decorations, travel etc.
But if you have long term financial goals, you can always trim the budget down even further. Remember, Christmas is ONLY one day of the year, don’t let that one day ruin your rest of the year.
Once you determine your Christmas budget, then you can work out how much money you need to save per month.
3. Set Up a Separate Christmas Account
Now that you know how much you need to save, next, you need to have a destinated place to save the money.
The chances are, you are already doing online banking. If that’s the case, your current bank account is most likely to let you set up a separate account, otherwise, you can open an instant access savings account.
4. Prioritise Christmas Activities and Gift List
Prioritising is a crucial step when it comes to saving money for Christmas.
Asking yourself the question – what is most important to you for an amazing Christmas this year?
Is it making the experience as magical as possible for your kids? Is it simply spending time with your family? Or is there a particular item you want to treat yourself?
Once you have a clarity of what’s most important to you for Christmas, then you can prioritise your activities and purchases.
You will be surprised how much money you can save by saying “no” to many of the purchases and activities that you didn’t care much about…
5. Sparkle Christmas with the Celebrations, NOT the Gifts
Christmas is the perfect time of year to spend time with the kids and build happy life-long memories, which don’t have to cost the earth.
Our kids love the elf on the shelf and her pet reindeer, we didn’t quite read the instructions, so we have a mischievous elf that gets up to all kinds of tricks using everyday household items.
For a little tradition, there is carolling and Christingles. Or classics like watching Miracle on 34th Street or The Polar Express snuggled under a blanket.
Also, check your FREE local event lists building up to Christmas.
For more FREE (and affordable) Christmas ideas to do with kids, head HERE.
6. Do a Pre-Christmas Clear Out to Make Room and Extra Cash
To give your Christmas budget a boost, why not do a pre-Christmas clear-out at the start of November?
Selling clothes and toys on ebay and facebook is a great way to make space and extra cash.
7. Shop for Black Friday Deals
I am SO glad that the UK has finally caught up with America’s Black Friday, adding to the list of money saving tips for Christmas…
Whilst it’s a purely commercial holiday as we don’t even celebrate Thanksgiving, but hey, if it means that I can save big on the Christmas shopping, I will take it.
Furthermore, as the online shopping trend becomes more popular, you no longer have to camp outside the store the night before just to get their “doorbuster deals”. Instead, you can simply access those great deals in the comfort of your home, ONLINE.
So do your research and have a shopping list in hand, so you can snatch those deals before they are gone.
8. Participate in A Secret Santa
If you have a large extended family or friend circle, participating in a Secret Santa is a great way to save money for Christmas gifts.
Never heard of Secret Santa? It’s an arrangement where a group of people exchange presents anonymously by putting each of your names in a hat, then you buy a present for the person you pull out of the hat and no-one else.
This way you can still celebrate Christmas with your friends, colleagues and extended family without breaking the bank. And trust me, it will help other members too.
9. Use Websites to Track and Compare to Get the Best Deal
Don’t get caught out buying presents at inflated prices, there are many websites like Google Shopping, Idealo (UK only) and pricerunner that let you compare prices and even set price alerts so you know when to buy.
Camelcamelcamel shows you the previous 90 days of price data so you can judge if the price is inflated or you are getting a good deal.
Honey (this is my affiliate link) gets you the best price for the website you are shopping on, by searching for all available offers and vouchers. It doesn’t compare with other sites, but once you have narrowed in on your purchase, Honey can often get you a deal.
10. Buying Discounted Gift Cards on eBay
We seem to be getting more and more gift cards for people these days. Certainly, the teenagers and twenty-somethings would rather receive one than risking a random present. (Good for them!) Or if we are just struggling for the right present.
If this sounds familiar, check out eBay, where many people sell unwanted gift cards for up to 20% less than the original price, saving you money as you go.
Do pay attention to the expiration dates on the gift cards.
11. Consider Buying 2nd Hand Gifts for Your Kids
eBay or Facebook marketplace is a great option for searching out Christmas bargains, like games consoles, bikes, books etc where you can select the ones in great condition.
We always buy our girls 2nd hand bikes this way.
TIP Search your local region first, for collection only items. Collection only items often get fewer bidders giving you a better chance of getting what you want.
12. Get Cashback
Make sure you take advantage of cashback sites.
They do the rest, with your cashback being paid directly to your bank, paypal account or as an amazon gift voucher. Members generally save £280 per year.
13. Credit Card Rewards
Choosing the right credit card for your Christmas shopping can get you cash back, gift cards or points towards other purchases. However this only makes sense if you pay off your credit card bill every month, if not the interest you pay easily wipes out any reward benefit.
The deals are always changing so it’s worth checking the best deals a couple of months before, to give you time to apply and the card to arrive.
14. Use Loyalty Points or Supermarket Savings Schemes
So you need to already have been saving the loyalty points for this tip to work for you.
If you have, think about using the balance in the run-up to Christmas.
As an example many shops offer bonus schemes to add up to 6% on your balance, max’ing your benefit, or allow you to use them on in-store offers, such as 25% off 6 bottles of wine, which can be helpful around this time of year.
15. Christmas Greetings Go Digital
So we already had this conversation in our family regarding birthday cards, and instead, took the decision to give a lottery scratch card.
Cheaper, and often gives a little bonus.
But you can also avoid the cost by sending digital greeting cards, which often allow you to personalise the greeting.
Another option is sending a text message or post a seasonal greeting on social media.
16. Do Not Go Overboard with Food on Christmas Day
I would guess this is an issue for many houses at Christmas and certainly ours, where we are often eating leftovers for days, before throwing out some eventual waste.
All wasting your money and time, while making a good portion of Christmas day stressful.
So here are a few tips for Christmas.
Divide and conquer – if you are having family members or friends round, don’t decline the ‘can I bring anything’ offer, instead be prepared and suggest (I really mean specify) either the starter, dessert or cheese, all 3 if you have enough guests.
Keep it simple for starters and dessert – 1 option instead of 5.
Don’t be lulled into the huge turkey, Aldi and Lidl sell fantastic small/medium Bronze turkeys that will suit your budget, feed a large family and guests, as well as fitting in your trays and oven.
You don’t need all the trimmings either, 1 or 2 is plenty.
17. Plan and shop early for next year
Last but not least on the list of money-saving ideas for Christmas is to plan and shop early for next year.
Typically January and February are the quietest months for the shops. To stimulate spending, the shops have lots of promotions and sales on. So take advantage of these deals and get a head start for next year’s Christmas saving.
Final Thoughts on 17 Guaranteed Money Saving Ideas for Christmas
So here you have it – my 17 Foolproof Money Saving Ideas for Christmas.
The single biggest takeaway here is to start early.
When you start early, you will have enough time to budget, save and shop, even to make a bit of extra cash.
Remember, Christmas is about the celebration. So focus on what’s important to you and your family.