Wednesday, 2 January 2013

How to Save £1000 for Christmas - and Other Savings Ideas

And so we have entered a new year and come to the close of the festive season. The presents have all been opened, the food has been eaten and most of the wine has been drunk. Across the land, many are wondering how soon they can take down the Christmas decorations and get their living rooms back to normal, and also are perhaps avoiding thinking about how soon the January credit card bills will be arriving through the letterbox....

With all of the expense of Christmas, we may at some point sit back and wonder why we stress ourselves out, over indulge, and spend money we don't have on presents and food for just a short period, especially if we then end up paying it back on credit cards!

Well, Christmas may be done and dusted for another year, but believe it or not, it is never to early to start thinking about saving for next Christmas so that you don't dread the arrival of the January bills. With a very large family of adults and kids to buy for, spreading the cost of Christmas over the year is the only way that Hubby and I are able to afford Christmas. I always breathe a sigh of relief in January that everything Christmas related has been paid for and we have no credit card debts hanging over us like others do.

So, saving for next Christmas is relatively easy. The most important thing to remember is:


If you add up the cost of  your last Christmas, and then divide it by 12. This is how much you should be aiming to save per month, or in total towards next Christmas. I am going to show you how you can save £1000 towards the cost of Christmas - feel free to adjust the amount to suit your own budget.

Save Money Each Week (without giving it to savings schemes)
Saving an amount of money each week will help you out hugely when December comes. You could save money in a pot, or give it to a trusted friend/family member to look after. Alternatively, you could open a savings account or access an existing one, and pay it into the account via direct debit each month.

This is our preferred method of saving, We set up a direct debit to transfer £10 per week into a savings account. You could also transfer a lump sum on pay day, rather than once a week - whatever works for you. Add extra cash to boost the pot/account if you find yourself with unexpected funds throughout the year.

Saving £10 per week, for 52 weeks equals £520 pounds - Total £520

Food Shopping
Many supermarkets offer Christmas Savings Cards which enable you to save throughout the year. Some supermarkets also offer an incentive and will add a bonus payment when you save a certain amount. I save with a couple of different supermarkets throughout the year. If you add £6 per week to your shopping bill for 52 weeks, you will typically save around £300 - which would need to be on two different savings cards as you can typically only save £150 per card. As well as the food shopping, you can also get some great gifts at the supermarket. You can register the cards so that you can still access the cash even if you lose the card.

£5 per week saved equals £240
£6 per week saved equals £312

We save £6 per week - Total £312

Gift Vouchers
Most of us will receive gift vouchers throughout the year, or refund vouchers when we return something in-store. Although you may feel obligated to purchase something just to use your gift or refund vouchers up, holding on to vouchers until Christmas time can be far more financially beneficial, as can buying something as a Christmas gift with vouchers/gift card during the year. Just make sure you check the expiry dates on vouchers and gift cards so that you don't lose out on spending the money altogether. 

On average, most people would have £20-£50 worth of vouchers throughout the year.

Total (averaged) £25 pounds

Buy Throughout The Year
You don't have to wait until Christmas to buy gifts. If you see something you think someone you know will like and it's a reasonable price, then buy it. If you aim to buy at least one gift a month, averaged out at £10 per gift, then by December you will have spent £120 towards the cost of Christmas and have £120 saved in products for Christmas. If you are going on holiday, especially somewhere abroad, then buying gifts and saving them for Christmas can be a great way to get someone something unique they would not ordinarily be able to get at home. Even a magnet, or tea towel can be an exciting present if it is from an exotic place, and a nice postcard, with a good frame can make a wonderful picture gift. 

Total £120 (Saved in Product)

Many people may receive gifts from Christmas/birthdays/raffles/competitions through the year that they may not particularly want or need. These can be re-gifted at Christmas to save money on gifts. Re-gifting generic gifts like toiletries, stationary or wine can be a great gift for distant friends or family, or for teachers. The golden rule is to make sure you don't re-gift a gift to the same person who gave the gift to you!

Average Total £25

All Savings In Total
£520 Cash Saved
£312 Supermarket Savings Card
£25 Gift Vouchers
£120 Bought Products
£25 Regifting

Total: £1002 saved over the year for Christmas!

Here are some other ways you can also save for Next Christmas:

Buy Cards/Christmas Wrapping NOW
Buy your Christmas cards and wrapping paper for next year at the end of this year's season - whilst the sales are on in the shops. Many stores have cards and wrapping papers at least half price straight after Christmas. You may have gift vouchers you could spend on Cards and Christmas Wrapping or decorations for next year.

Make Your Own Cards/Labels for Next Year
When you take down your cards, have a craft day and cut out the pictures on the cards to make labels, or Using some coloured card, stick the cut-out Christmas pictures onto new Cards for next year. Store them in a safe place for the following year.

Browse Charity Shops
Although many would baulk at the idea of receiving gifts from a charity shop, there may be those in your life who you know are self-confessed thrifters and who would happily receive a gift from a charity shop. Be on the look out throughout the year as sometimes, you might just find that thing which you think could be perfect for someone you know. Buy a pretty box to give your gift in and your gift will look as good as new. Charity shops also often contain new, unused gifts which may be perfect for friends and family.

Buy Toys at Nearly New Sales
Since my kids have been young, we have bought the majority of their toys for Christmas from our local NCT Nearly New Sales. Toys sold at NCT sales and other similar sales are often good quality toys, hardly used and sold as seen, for between one third and half of the price you would expect to pay in the shops. My kids have received some fantastic stuff over the years, and their pile on Christmas morning has been huge, whilst the financial outlay has been very reasonable. They still always receive a couple of 'main' presents which are brand new, but nearly new toys have helped to bulk out their piles on Christmas morning considerably, and have saved time on removing the packaging. I would typically only buy nearly new sale toys for my own children, or perhaps for a child whose parent I knew well and who had similar thinking to me, but buying their toys second hand has saved me hundreds of pounds over the last few years, and they are always impressed with their stash on Christmas morning,. 

As an example, amongst other things, this Christmas youngest received:
Mini Micro Scooter RRP £49. NNS Price - £8. 
Fur Real Cat RRP 15. NNS Price - £2.50.
Disney Jasmine Outfit RRP £15. NNS Price £3.50.

Eldest Received:
Barbie Camper Van RRP £50. NNS Price £9.
Polly Pocket Ski Resort RRP £30. NNS Price £3.

Sell Old Items Online or at Nearly New Sales/Car Boot Sales
Great for making space for new Christmas gifts, and raising money for Christmas at the same time. 

Make Your Own Gifts
If the thought of traipsing through the shops for gifts leaves your stomach churning, or if you want to save money, or you are extremely talented in one way or another, then why not consider making your own gifts? A late autumn windfall of apples or berries can often be foraged for free and turned into delicious jams or chutneys. You could start saving jars now so that you have enough to give as gifts. A child's picture lovingly created at nursery or school can be framed as a great gift for grandparents.

Other Gift Ideas:
Chocolate Truffles, Hand Sewn Items, Knitted Items, Jewellery, Soap, Gift Hampers, Sketches, Layered Ingredient Jars, Create a CD, Calendars, Teacup Candles, Memory Jar, Plants, Me Vouchers.

So, there you have it - £1000 saved for Christmas, plus lots of other savings and Christmas gift ideas!

If you have found these tips helpful, please leave me a comment to say so. If you have any other tips, please let me know, or leave a comment, and I will add them to the post.

Happy Saving!!

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