Mum shares shopping calendar that saved her £3,500

Hayley Bewley spreads her Christmas preparation over 12 months

How to plan throughout the year for Christmas

Hayley Bewley and her husband have six children and five grandchildren between them, making Christmas a huge expense.

The 51-year-old mum from Brighton admits she's usually prepared, organised and well bargain-hunted when it comes to Christmas, but with 11 children to treat, and 30 family guests each year - it's no easy feat.

See also: Give a gift that could keep giving this Christmas

See also: Is Christmas dinner getting more expensive?

That's why last December, she set herself a mission to make 2016 the cheapest - and most stress-free - Christmas yet - one that eventually led to an incredible saving of £3,565.

To help others, Hayley has put together some tips, tricks and a monthly breakdown of what to buy and when ahead of Christmas.

"My first tip is to start as early as possible," Hayley says.

"People often leave buying too late and end up spending more, but you can get Christmas deals throughout the year and often at better prices."

It also pays to start with a list - and know who you are buying for - which means you can start your shop early - plus it helps reduce waste, she explains.

But it's not all about gifts. As supermarkets start to advertise Christmas labels on products, goods will shoot up in price - and the closer you get to this, the higher prices can end up.

"Plan who you are having over for Christmas. Knowing how many you will have around the table in advance means you can cut food costs and avoid waste," she explains, plus, ask your guests to bring a bottle, it'll bring your booze bill down to nothing.

Hayley is also a fan of cashback websites, like TopCashback which if free to join, and has earned her £113 in the last six months.

"Cashback can save you money on everyday shopping throughout the year and can be put towards your Christmas fund at the end of the year, she says.

"I've clocked up savings of £1,134 since joining in 2013".

Sales and voucher codes are also top of Hayley's list when it comes to anything and everything - but don't forget to shop around. "You can find hundreds of gifts buried in the discount sections" she adds.

Hayley's month-by-month Christmas savings guide

Credits: Bonne Maman

Bonne Maman

December: Time to shop the sales

Christmas day is when the majority of sales begin and can be the best day to start hunting for deals online.

"Taking 30-minutes after the EastEnders special and popping items in your basket means you can reserve them and see if they go down further in price later," Hayley says.

January: Get the final bargains in

The beginning of the year is when sale prices are best. The best stores to pick up a bargain are Boots, M&S, Lakeland and John Lewis. It's also a good idea to visit the different supermarkets as there is often a bargain to be had.

Stock up on wrapping paper, decorations and Christmas cards as they are usually sold at huge discounts. You can buy cards for as little as 10p in Paperchase, which tend to charge £5 or more for a pack of cards just before Christmas.

February: Cheap Valentine's Day chocolate

Credits: Getty

Getty

Jewellery and chocolate are often heavily discounted after Valentine's Day, which is a really good time to buy presents with couples in mind - but don't forget to check for expiry dates before you buy.

April: Time to get the sweet treats in

After Easter is another great opportunity to stock up on chocolate and other sweet treats for the family. Remember to keep these in a cool place, as summer is on its way - and you don't want your gifts to melt!

May: Empty your freezer

May is a great month to start buying freezer items that can be stored up until Christmas day, including lobsters and prawns for the classic Christmas starter, which you can pick up on offer for as little as £3 each.

Throughout the months, ensure you are collecting and redeeming loyalty points and then putting them towards Christmas gifts as this can massively cut costs.

If you shop in stores like Boots or Superdrug they do fantastic loyalty programmes. These stores are perfect go-to for gift sets and stocking fillers. You can also use Nectar points on eBay.co.uk. to find bargains buys.

September: DIY gifts

By this point in the year, buying groceries that are non-perishable means you can get everything at a bargain (including Turkey crowns, pickles and frozen pastry). Also, be sure to browse local corner stores for any bargains, not just the big supermarkets.

If you have spare time, making gifts yourself can be a rewarding and cheaper experience. Homemade advent calendars can add a unique festive feel to the home at little expense.

December: Sit back, and relax!

Credits: Getty

Getty

Being Christmas ready in December (asides from the odd presents left to wrap) means you can relax and enjoy the festive period and be smug whilst totaling up the saving.

Christmas gift ideas for kids

Christmas gift ideas for kids



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