Top tips to tackle the cost of Christmas 2017

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One in three of us are borrowing to pay for Christmas and for many, it can take several months to repay their debts. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Here are some simple tips that could help you get back on top of your finances and see you enter 2018 on a high, without appearing to be the modern day Scrooge.

What should I spend on Christmas?

Studies show that spending money on other people is the best way to increase your own happiness. However, the average household is now shelling out nearly £500 on Christmas presents each year, with the festive period costing over £800 in total. You might also be surprised at the cost of 2017’s ‘must-have’ gifts, such as iPad-controlled Lego robots that are more than £140. With prices spiralling out of control, what can you do to celebrate Christmas in style without borrowing money? This Choose Wisely Christmas checklist offers plenty of tips and tricks, for planning and budgeting your spends over the festive period.

Prepaid cards are a great tool if you’re trying to stick to a budget. You can only spend what you’ve topped up and there are deals to be had if you shop around. Try comparing your options using the comparison tables from expert comparison websites.

Alternatively, budgeting apps are now available which can track your spending across multiple current and savings accounts. Find a trusted app and with a bit of work, you’ll see all your money in one place. It’s a great way to find potential savings or calculate what you can afford to spend on Christmas.

Saving cash on Christmas shopping

We spend over £200 each year on Christmas food, but following the simple steps in the infographic can help you to identify savings. Another way is by shopping at discount supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi. If you’re not familiar with these brands, or you’re loyal to another chain, like Tesco, it’s worth giving these thrifty European imports a try. The high quality of budget products might surprise you.

Christmas borrowing options

You might have seen a few store cards at the checkout in a supermarket or even online. They’re a great way for retailers to make a quick profit, but that means they’re often poor value for consumers. If you want to put some Christmas shopping on a card, your best solution is likely to be 0% introductory purchase rate or rewards cards. Christmas loans are usually to be avoided unless you have no other option. Before borrowing anything, make sure you can afford the repayments and shop around using price comparison websites to get a better deal.

Top 5 Christmas shopping tips

1. Plan ahead for Christmas 2018

It might be an obvious tip, but if you’re looking to restock decorations or cards, wait until 2018. The best deals on Christmas cards, tinsel and artificial trees will be found in the sales at the end of December and start of January. On December 27th, head to your biggest garden centre or DIY store to find a huge collection of Christmas preparation products at bargain basement prices.

2. Cheap long distance travel

Long distance train travel can be pretty unpleasant at Christmas time, with millions of shoppers crammed into tiny carriages, carrying armfuls of last minute gifts. Avoid the train, though and you could save a huge amount of money. Other options like ridesharing and Megabus can be three times cheaper.

3. Cancel old subscriptions

If you’ve set up a budgeting app on your phone, you’ll now have access to all of your transactions. That’s a great opportunity to go through and find any charges you weren’t expecting. Old subscriptions to services like Amazon Prime or Spotify can cost more than £100 each year, if you forget to cancel.

4. Make your own decorations

Christmas cards and decorations can cost a huge amount of money, but you can make your own on the cheap. If you’ve got kids, this might be an obvious option, but handcrafted gifts can be rewarding to make, even on your own. Buy the supplies for cheap online or at Wilkos and The Works to save even more.

5. Switch banks for a cash incentive

First Direct is offering a £100 reward for customers who switch to their current account. There are similar deals from other banks available, so be sure to look around to find the best incentive and account for you.

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