Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. There are no more made-up or imported days that promise discounts and savings.
Yet despite a rocky economic outlook, or maybe because of it, we’re all set for a bumper Christmas. Research from American Express suggests we’re on course to spend an average of £1,551 on everything from parties to presents to pantomimes.
Trouble is, many of us can’t afford to part with that kind of cash this festive season. A survey carried out by uSwitch at the very end of 2016 showed that British people carried an average credit card debt of £636 into 2017. More than half believed that they would still be paying it off by the time they put up their tree again this year.
But there are ways and means of making December special without breaking the bank. Here are 10 tips for a cheaper Christmas.
1. Find the real best deal
Comparing the cost of an item and finding the best price is a great way to save. However, it’s important to find the actual best deal.
By searching an impartial price comparison tool, shoppers can be more confident that they have found the right price. Pricesearcher is a good example; it’s indexed 500 million prices to date, including all 80 million of Amazon’s products.
Samuel Dean, CEO and founder of the site says: “By searching on Pricesearcher using the model number, you can see not only where you can get the best price for your Christmas presents, but also how the prices offered by each retailer has changed over last few months so you can spot whether or not you are getting a bargain or if prices have been raised before any special deals.”
2. Layer deals on deals
By layering deals and offers, shoppers can build up the amount of discount they build up.
Natasha Rachel Smith, consumer affairs editor at TopCashback.co.uk, explains: “Use a comparison site to find the best possible price, search for a voucher code to bring the price down even further, use a cashback site to reclaim some of your spend and make the purchase using a cashback or reward credit card.”
3. Compare postal prices
If you have family in far-flung locations then posting off their presents can cost a fortune.
However, there are a lot of different options for send parcels now and a few minutes can help you find the cheapest deal and even help you avoid the post office queues.
David Grimes, CEO of My Parcel Delivery, tells us: “One solution is to use a price comparison website which compares couriers and prices to help you save both time and money when sending gifts afar.
“Comparison sites such as My Parcel Delivery enable you to keep up-to-date with the best deals available and help find the right service for you. Example courier services include a drop-off option with UPS or collection with Parcelforce Express.”
4. Sign up to emails
Sarah Willingham, entrepreneur and former Dragons Den investor, is working with the Nectar Life Hacks campaign. She recommends signing up to retailers’ newsletters.
“Make sure you’ve signed up to store emails and newsletters a couple of weeks before,” she suggests. “That way you might be able to add an extra discount code to your basket. If you don’t like them clogging up your inbox, create a specific email account to keep them all in one place.”
5. Get a bonus
One way to spend less money this Christmas is to have more money to start with.
Natasha Rachel Smith suggests: “One simple way of getting a little extra cash this Christmas is switching current accounts. Many offer incentives of more than £100 which could go towards gifts, Christmas dinner, or be a helpful boost for January.”
6. Hold your nerve
You may have missed the Black Friday early discounts but maybe waiting even longer could help you find a deal.
Sarah Willingham says: “If you can, do your shopping a couple of days before the big day. Although you’ll probably run into a lot of panic buyers, if you stick to your list, you can nab some great bargains as this is the time the prices really start to drop.”
7. Use your points
Many of us have a stack of unused loyalty points sitting on cards but we often don’t get around to using them. Christmas can be the perfect time to do so.
Sarah Willingham adds: “If you’re good at collecting loyalty points throughout the year then you can put the total cash earned towards your purchase, whether it’s for loved ones or yourself!
“Loyalty programmes like Nectar offer points with hundreds of online retailers, so make sure you’re checking in advance and using tools like the ‘Nectar Notifier’ so you don’t miss out.”
8. Delay your giving
Do you have to see Auntie Delia before Christmas Day, or could you fit her in just after? George Charles, spokesperson for VoucherCodesPro, has this suggestion: “Getting gifts for every single person you know can be inconvenient at the best of times, but one easy way to ensure you’re not spending millions is to leave buying presents for those you’ll be seeing after Christmas until after the big day.
“Christmas sales start either Christmas Day (online) and Boxing Day in the shops so, as long as you don’t mind braving the crowds, buying presents this way can save you quite a bit of cash.”
9. Set alerts
By setting alerts for deals on the gifts you want to buy, you can snap them up at the right time.
Natasha Rachel Smith adds: “For example, HotUKDeals will notify you of when you can get the item you’re looking for on sale or reduced or, [it] has a voucher code available for you to use to get discount.”
10. Get a tree for a fiver
You can easily pay £70 for a tip-top tree but there’s no need to spend quite that much as many retailers have special offers and deals.
A good example is Ikea. It’s giving customers a £20 voucher when they buy a £25 Christmas tree. As long as you’ll actually use the voucher then that’s an overall cost of just a fiver for a fresh Nordman fir, Nobel fir or Norway spruce.
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