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With only a few weeks to go until Christmas, unless you’re super organised (which I am not!) and are already all prepared for Christmas, you might be starting to think about your Christmas shopping, and how you’ll finance it. This post is from Laura, who runs the blog Thrifty Londoner, and has some great tips and advice to help you save money on your Christmas shopping this year.
I’m Laura, and over the years I have become obsessed with money saving and money making to help me achieve my goals. That said, one thing that I haven’t always been so good at, is saving money on Christmas shopping. 5 years ago I spent the earth on gifts, socialising and clothing- when I really did not have the budget for it- I was aged 21, in a minimum wage temp job, and I didn’t have a job lined up to go to when January arrived! After that Christmas, I felt so guilty about my bank balance, and vowed to be more sensible in the years to come.
Christmas should be joyful, and it’s certainly not something worth ruining your finances over. There is a certain pressure that comes with Christmas- a pressure to spoil others, treat ourselves and say yes to every social invitation that comes our way, but it doesn’t have to be like that. You can do Christmas on a budget, and it can still be full of festive spirit and as big and bold as you would like it to be.
I’m here to share with you my best tips to save money on Christmas shopping, so that you can have your best Christmas yet, with your finances still intact.
Set a budget
Gift giving is a wonderful thing, and it’s completely up to you how much you decide to spend on gifts for your nearest and dearest. One thing that I have found works particularly well is to agree a budget with those you are exchanging gifts with- you might be surprised to find that your friend is feeling exactly the same as you are about the cost of Christmas! Another idea is to agree to make something for each other- you could get creative in the kitchen or even get a needle and thread out to make something special.
In terms of your own overall Christmas spend, it’s a good idea to work out a full budget for the cost of Christmas a month or so in advance. Include everything from travel costs to wrapping paper and then there should be no nasty surprises when you check your bank account. Having a budget means that you stick to a plan and avoid any unnecessary spending- you will save money just by following a simple budget structure instead of just diving into the shops.
Decide when you are going to shop
Are you going to start your gift shopping now so that you can grab bargains as you see them? Or will you leave your shopping until Christmas Eve when the sales have already started? I am certainly in the former camp, but there are plenty of thrill seekers who have saved a huge amount of cash by shopping for gifts at the very last moment.
Whichever you fall into, just make sure that you have a plan- and you stick to it. Panic buying at Christmas time is when overspending occurs, so make sure that you have a list in mind of what you want to buy for others before you head to the shops or browse online.
Black Friday & Cyber Monday
Black Friday was once considered an American phenomenon, but over the last few years we have adopted this crazy shopping extravaganza in the UK too. There are definitely bargains to be had on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday (Friday 23rd & Monday 26th November), but forward planning is key- you don’t want to be the woman photographed in The Sun fighting to the death over a discounted TV.
You can bet that pretty much every major retailer will be involved in one way or another, so make your lists and get searching when the big day comes. Amazon has always been a Black Friday heavyweight, and so if you’re hoping to buy electronics (especially Kindles) Black Friday is the day to buy them. Similarly ASOS will usually have big discounts site wide, and in previous years have offered 20% off everything on their site- it’s the perfect time to get any gifts involving clothing or accessories.
Use cashback sites
As a nation, the amount of money that we spend on food at Christmas is astronomical- but luckily, there are so many ways to save money on the biggest meal of the year. One of the best ways to save money on your food shopping is to make use of cashback sites such as Topcashback and Quidco when you shop online for your groceries. It’s the perfect way to get some money for nothing! Just log into the site and get paid for spending money on your Christmas shopping.
Shop the deals
Have a list of the food items you need for the Christmas period, and carry this around with you wherever you go. After all, bargains can be found in the most unlikely of places! By biding your time and shopping for the items on your list when they coincide with deals in the supermarkets, you will get the most out of your money.
As Christmas edges closer, you could even start looking at yellow label items to freeze and then bring out for party nibbles throughout the festive season- just make sure that you check the dates and whether it is suitable for freezing.
The best time to save money on new party wear is in the January sales, but since that ship sailed months ago, it’s time to get a little more creative. Although it can feel great to have a brand new outfit for Christmas Day and all of the other parties throughout the month of December, no one is going to notice if you wear outfits that you already have in your wardrobe. Party wear is probably among the least worn pieces of clothing in our wardrobes- reserved for special occasions, and usually worn a few times and then discarded. If you want to save money on party wear- just wear something you already own!
If having something ‘new’ to wear is really important to you, a great place to start looking for a new outfit is charity shops. Many charity shops will gather all of their best party pieces over the run up to Christmas, and then display them together on a rail- you are bound to find some amazing pieces at just a fraction of the cost of something brand new.
eBay is another fantastic place to get a new outfit for party season- you can buy items either new with tags, or second hand, and you can really narrow down your search to make sure that you find exactly what you are looking for.
Depop and Vinted are apps where you can buy and sell clothing- but you can also swap clothing with other users! This works perfectly if you spy something that you love, and the other person is willing to do a clothes swap with you. You get a new outfit for nothing, AND you clear out some clutter! It’s a win-win situation.
So there we have it, a ton of ways that you can save money on your Christmas shopping! Happy bargain hunting!