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I know, thinking about Christmas at this time of year feels all wrong, but really given the shocking statistics about how many people struggle financially over the festive period, being prepared can only be a good thing.
For a lot of people Christmas can be an expensive time of year, with extra money spent on things like food and drink, travelling to see relatives and of course gifts.
In fact the average spend on Christmas per adult was reported by The Independent to be upwards of £750! With this kind of spending it’s easy to see how people can get into debt or end up relying on credit to pay for their festive spending.
The good news is, if you start thinking about covering your Christmas costs early, it’s perfectly possible to have a completely debt free, stress free Christmas with all the trimmings, even when you’re on a tight budget.
Saving for a debt free Christmas
Making a change to your overall spending habits can mean lead to huge savings overall. To begin with, making and analysing a budget can really help identify areas where you can cut back.
For example if you have an expensive TV subscription but aren’t making the most of it, you could switch to a cheaper option and pop that monthly saving in your Christmas fund.
If you find that your monthly supermarket spend is quite high, there are lots of easy ways to save money on groceries and lower that bill.
You could also try to live more frugally by just changing a few simple living habits.
Use an automatic savings app
You simply connect to your bank and it works out how much you can afford to save, then automatically shifts small amounts into your savings. Those small amounts can really build up, and you should find that come Christmas you have a nice little pot, and you didn’t even notice it missing!
Keep a change jar
This one is old-school, but still works well for a lot of people! If you’re the sort of person that uses cash a lot, try collecting all your odd change in a jar. I hardly ever use cash, so Plum works a lot better for me, but everyone’s different! Then just before Christmas count it all up and use it in your Christmas budget.
Start Meal Planning
If you don’t do it already, meal planning is a great way to save money on your grocery shopping.
Planning in advance and then shopping in line with your plan helps to stop buying things you don’t need, and means you end up with less food waste. Batch cooking can also help to lower meal costs.
Buying in bulk helps a lot too, as bigger packs and bottles of things tend to cost less than smaller versions.
Use apps to save on groceries
Adding a few apps to your phone and remembering to use them regularly can be an easy way to save up a little more. Apps like Shopmium and Checkout Smart will give you money back on your shopping for certain items and simply involve browsing for the offers you want and snapping a photo of your receipt after you shop.
You can also use receipt apps such as Shoppix which ask you to take a quick photo of your receipts after shopping and they will send you a voucher or cash after you’ve accumulated enough points for a payout.
How To Earn Extra Money For Christmas
There are tons of ways you can make a bit extra on the side to put towards your Christmas fund, but here are a few of the quickest and easiest.
Declutter your home
You’re bound to end up with a lot more stuff in your house after Christmas, so why not have a clear out now in preparation? Do you really need that dress you wore a wedding years ago, or the guitar that never gets played? Why not make some extra space and some extra cash while you’re at it? Unless you’re already a Kon-Mari convert there’s bound to be stuff lying around that you don’t use or need anymore.
There are plenty of options to sell with, you’ve obviously got eBay, which is great for reaching a huge customer base. Facebook and Gumtree are my go-to for a quick sale, or if you prefer to use a selling app, then Shpock is a good one, especially if you’d rather your items were collected rather than posted. Another app with no fees to list is Mercari. If you just want to declutter but can’t be bothered with the effort of selling this way or trying something like a car boot, services like We Buy Books will buy them and you can post them off for free.
Try taking part in studies or surveys for cash
There are loads of survey sites and apps that will reward you in either cash or vouchers in return for taking part in consumer research. Although they tend to not to be amazingly well paid, the upside is you can do it in your spare time in front of the TV, so it takes little effort.
A couple of standout sites that have a reasonable pay rate are:
Prolific – a site which pays you to take part in academic research studies. Once you’ve signed up as a participant you’ll be shown studies that you are eligible for and you can choose which to take part in. Once you’re submission is approved, payment will be added to your account and you can withdraw to either a PayPal or Circle account. Payment rates start at a minimum of £5 per hour but are often more.
Populus Live – a survey company that pays your to take part in market research surveys. They pay a set rate of £1 per 5 minutes. Surveys are sent directly to your email address. Once you have accumulated £50 in your account you’ll automatically be sent a cheque. It might sound like a slow earner, but there’s plenty of time left before Christmas to earn a payout, and it’s one of the best paying sites I’ve used.
When it comes to the Festive period…
Do free Christmas activities
Instead of paying for expensive Christmas activities, find free and festive things to do instead, like doing some Christmas baking, or going to carol services or Christingles with your kids. This post from Family Budgeting has a great list of free things to enjoy at Christmastime.
Don’t forget to get cashback!
When you’re doing your online shopping – and it’s a great idea to start shopping in advance to spread the cost – always always always remember to check for cashback first. Two great sites for cashback are Quidco and Topcashback. For the sake a few seconds clicking you could be leaving money on the table. (I’ve earned over £1500 in cashback since I started using the sites!).
If you’re not already registered (and there’s really no reason not to be) you can read more about the different sites available and how they work here.
If your budget is sorted but you struggle with getting everything organised (and don’t we all!) then Becca Blogs it Out has some great tips on how to get organised now to save time later.