1. Plan how you'll pay

If you fund Christmas with expensive credit cards you'll simply end up paying more for your purchase in interest. Instead, you should decide how best to finance the festivities up front.

This may mean cutting back on luxuries this month to boost your Christmas budget, turning to your savings or even applying for an interest free purchase credit card (although you will need a plan to pay back your borrowing).

Working out how you'll pay for Christmas and setting yourself a realistic budget now will set the wheels in motion for a January that's debt-hangover free.

2. Start now

While it may seem a little unorthodox for me to suggest you hit the shops, starting your Christmas shopping early is a must if you want to get more for your money.

You'll not only have more time to set budgets and decide what you'll buy for whom, but also be able to ensure you get your gifts for the best price possible so that come January you're not left with an empty wallet.

Of course, the added bonus is that you'll be so sorted when it gets to Christmas that you'll actually be able to enjoy it rather than trolley-dashing empty stores like you're on Supermarket Sweep.

3. Shop around

Whether you're buying DVDs, games consoles, perfume or bubbly there's no sense in paying a penny more than you need to. So shopping around for anything and everything you need this Christmas is a must.

Compare prices for whatever you're buying online and search high street stores for the best deal.

If you have a smartphone then it's a good idea to download a price comparison barcode scanner like Redlaser for the iPhone and iPod. This will mean you can check whether any other store is selling the same product for less while you're out shopping.

Of course, if you're making a sizable purchase don't forget to haggle. You've really nothing to lose and you could get a significant discount so it's worth a try.

4. Search for discounts

Once you've found the best price for your purchase it's a good idea to check whether you could slash the price even further.

Retailers regularly release discount vouchers to give you a little extra off when you shop in store, and voucher codes to use online. So get into the habit of checking whether any are available before you head into town or hit the checkout button when you shop online.

5. Shop the pre-Christmas sales

Mid-November is the time to hit the shops if you're serious about making your money go further. This is when the big high street retailers run their pre-Christmas sales, so it's a good time to hit the shops and get your gifts while they are cheap.

It's also the time to stock up on cards, crackers and gift wrap while it's on offer - that's if you didn't get your supply super-cheap last January of course.

6. Get a cashback credit card and use cashback websites

If you have the money available to cover your Christmas spending outright it's worth considering getting a cashback credit card. You'll be able to use it to make all of your purchases and get something back in return.

Keep the money you would have spent in an accessible savings account and you'll be able to clear the balance come January and have earnt a little extra interest too.

A word of warning, however: cashback credit cards are only worth considering if you'll be able to pay off your spending completely after your first statement. They interest you'll pay if you carry a balance over is likely to eclipse any cashback you've earned through your Christmas spending.

Cashback websites

If you're shopping online then you may be able to get paid for your purchases by going through a cashback website. Providing they list the retailer you're shopping with you'll be able to get a cash return - usually a percentage of your spend - credited back to your bank account. For the sake of a few extra seconds spent shopping this is certainly worth your while.

6. Make the most of loyalty points

It's likely that you've earned a large number of loyalty points as you've spent at different stores over the course of the year. Now is the time to cash them in - you could find that you've enough points to get something you were planning to buy anyway, free.

Read this article to find out how to make the most of the UK's 6 biggest loyalty schemes.

As well as cashing- in loyalty points, you should also look out for any special discounts and bonus points that are available to you as a loyalty card holder. While these are unlikely to make a significant difference in the amount you pay, it makes sense to check as every little helps!

8. Order your food shopping online

Venturing to the supermarket in the weeks leading up to Christmas is usually a recipe for disaster, even if you go armed with a shopping list and good intentions. The chaos and clever marketing tactics combine to mean you're likely to load your trolley with far too much food.

Order your Christmas shopping online instead and you'll be better able to stick to your budget and your list.

Book a delivery slot in advance so you get the cheapest - and most convenient time - and check mysupermarket.co.uk to find out which supermarket will help you to cook your way through Christmas for less.