The 12 saves of Christmas

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Christmas tree and stocking near fireplace

If you're facing Christmas on a tight budget, don't panic.

The good news is there are still plenty of opportunities to cut costs in the run-up to the big day.

So here are our 12 (money) saves of Christmas.



1. Plan your budget in advance
List all the things you're going to need to pay for, such as food, drink, presents, decorations, etc. Make sure you don't miss anything out.

Then you need to work out how much you can afford to pay for it all. If you go over budget in one area, don't worry, keep reading this guide and we'll show you how to cut back some of your costs.

Once you've finalised your budget, make sure you stick to it!


2. Look for free stuff!
Are you looking for a Christmas tree or some decorations? Perhaps you need some extra chairs, so everyone can fit round the Christmas dinner table? Before you spend any money, see what you can get free. Using sites like Freegle, Freecycle and SnaffleUp, you can pick up a huge variety of items other people want to give away.

3. Get secondhand bargains
If you can't get what you're after for nothing, see if you can hunt down a secondhand Christmas bargain for just a few pence. Furniture, clothes and gift possibilities are all out there - you just need to know where to look.

4. Always compare prices
When shopping for Christmas presents, find the item that you want at the cheapest price using price comparison websites like AOL Shopping, Kelkoo or PriceRunner.

5. Hunt for vouchers
Before you spend any cash, see if there are any voucher codes you could use to knock down the cost of your purchase. One of the best places to look is the consumer-led bargains website HotUKDeals, but there are loads of others to check out including vouchercodes.co.uk, myvouchercodes.co.uk and vouchercloud.

6. Earn cashback or rewards
You can also save pounds by shopping via cashback websites like Quidco or TopCashback, which pay you for shopping at certain retailers. It's always worth checking if the cashback on offer is a higher percentage than any vouchers out there. If you do opt for cashback, you probably won't see your money for a couple of months, but it could well help with your New Year bills.

And don't forget cashback credit cards are a great way to earn extra money on all your spending.Or if you prefer the opportunity to earn free flights, holidays, Clubcard or Nectar points, take a look at top reward credit cards.

Compare cashback credit cards

7. Use MySupermarket
Shopping site MySupermarket can help you find out where you can get the cheapest festive ingredients. The site compares the price of groceries at Aldi, Asda, Ocado, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

8. Make your loyalty points count
Many people save up their supermarket loyalty card points all year, and then spend them on a whopping Christmas dinner shop. In fact, loyalty points are usually worth more if you spend them online, rather than at the supermarket, so if you have some take a look at what presents they could pay for first.

9. Send free e-cards
There are plenty of e-cards available that can be sent to your whole email address book in seconds, and some are even free. And many have unlimited space for your message, so you could even squeeze in your annual Christmas letter to boot. Check out 123 greetings, Blue Mountain and egreetings for free Christmas e-cards – and for free charity cards take a look at Macmillan and SOS Children's villages.

10. Book your travel in advance
The sooner you book your Christmas travel, the cheaper it is. Use any of the main train companies' websites, for example East Coast, to search and book your journeys (avoid The Trainline as it charges a booking fee). Don't forget that it could be cheaper to buy several tickets for different parts of the journey than just one ticket - the Faresaver website has tips on how to split your journey. Or take the coach - take a look at National Express and Megabus and see how they compare.

11. Party on the cheap
If you're planning to celebrate Christmas with a meal out, find a cheap and cheerful place to do it. You could try the likes of your local Wetherspoon's or look out for vouchers at the likes of vouchercodes.co.uk, myvouchercodes.co.uk and vouchercloud.

12. Postpone your main celebration for a few days
This is a fairly radical option admittedly but if you can wait even just a few days you'll find that you can pick up Christmas dinner cheap in the supermarkets and take advantage of the sales for your presents.

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