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10 ways to save this Christmas

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Our top tips for saving money this Christmas will help reduce stress levels so that you can relax and enjoy the big day.

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Christmas shopping is not everyone's idea of fun. It can be time-consuming, stressful and very expensive. Use our top 10 Christmas savings tips to avoid blowing your budget.

1. Avoid gift vouchers

Buying gift vouchers for Christmas might seem a safe option if you're not sure what present to buy, but it can also be risky. The high street is going through some challenging times and many retailers have gone under. Retailers that have gone bust will often stop accepting gift vouchers and it will be more difficult to get your money back.

It might be safer to get a prepaid gift card if you want a loved one to be able to choose their own Christmas present this year.

2. Play present roulette

One easy way to make savings this Christmas is to take the office Secret Santa idea outside the office. Christmas shopping can get really expensive if you have a big family and lots of friends.

It's one thing to buy gifts that people want or need, but if everyone agrees, you can avoid splashing out on unwanted presents. Put names into a hat and have everyone pick out one person to buy for. Ask people to write down their top 3 preferred gifts and you're already on your way to a quicker and cheaper Christmas shop. It’ll reduce Christmas shopping stress too.

3. Check if you can get discounts with your current account

You don't always have to pay full price for your Christmas gifts. Some current accounts will offer discounts or cashback when you spend at specific shops. If you have a packaged current account, check which shops you can benefit from.

If your current account doesn’t offer any benefits, you might want to consider switching to a more competitive account. Changing your current account is easier than you think thanks to the Current Account Switch Service. This is a free service that takes care of all the hard work and ensures you have moved over to a new account in seven working days. 

Many banks will also offer an initiative for you to switch. You could get a lump sum of cash, account benefits such as insurance or rewards like free cinema tickets. These can help you save money on your spending this Christmas.

4. Pay with a credit card

If you already have a credit card and can afford to pay it off each month, you may want to use it for your Christmas shopping. This is because of the Section 75 regulation which protects all purchases costing from £100 up to £30,000.

If there is an issue with the gifts you buy and you are not able to claim money back from the retailer, you can use Section 75. Here is how it works. Using a credit card can save you the hassle of having to replace a present later.

What’s more, you may get discounts or offers depending on the type of credit card you have. Priceless Cities is a program exclusively for Mastercard holders offering unique offers and experiences. Check what's available in your city and you could find the perfect present to share with someone else.

5. Check before you travel

Ticket prices, journey times and crowds will always increase during the Christmas period. If you know in advance that you have to use public transport to get somewhere in time for Christmas Day, it's worth booking your ticket early.

Train tickets are generally released 12 weeks before the date of travel and this is when you’re likely to be able to buy a cheaper advance fare online. 

You can also save money by avoiding travelling at peak times - whether you’re flying or travelling by train. Flights are generally cheaper if you travel very early in the morning or very late at night. It’s also sensible to bring your own food with you to avoid paying high prices on planes or trains. 

6. Plan your food shopping

It can pay to start thinking about Christmas food shopping early on. That way you can start stocking up on non-perishables whenever you see them on offer. It will also reduce the need to pay for all of your Christmas food in one go, making your spending more manageable.

7. Dedicate a day to do your Christmas shopping

One of the reasons we overspend on Christmas shopping is because we leave it until the last minute. If you can, find a time when you can set aside a whole day to get all the gifts you need.

Start early and plan to get to the shops when they open. On Sundays, some shops will open half an hour earlier for "browsing time". Under the Sunday Trading Act, you won't be able to purchase anything until official opening hours. But starting early means you should be able to find what you need without fighting through the crowds.

8. Buy second-hand

As well as helping you save money, buying second-hand gifts can also help the environment. Yet, according to research by preloved site Vinted, only 1 in 6 people plan to buy solely second-hand gifts this year.

There are stacks of websites that sell second-hand items in good condition for a discounted price, such as Preloved and Gumtree, as well as places like Facebook Marketplace, so why not have a browse? 

9. Sign up for email lists for shop discounts

If you plan in advance, you can avoid getting sucked in by overdressed shop windows this Christmas. During this time, it's easy to get tempted by seemingly unmissable offers. But you will benefit more by being more intentional with your spending.

Most shops will send regular discount codes to customers by email. Sign up to emails from the shops where you will spend the most money in the weeks leading up to Christmas. You will get notifications for discounts, free delivery and in-store promotions. All of which could potentially save you money on your Christmas shopping.

Don’t forget to take advantage of pre-season events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday too. 

10. Check your home insurance policy

Christmas is a great time to let burglars know you have something worth stealing. Some of the most expensive Christmas shopping we do this year might be on phones, tablets or other gadgets, so you will need to keep your presents safe. Keep your gifts in a secure place and set any intruder alarm systems when you are away from home.

You should also check whether you have sufficient contents cover in place to protect your newly bought items. Some insurers automatically increase your contents insurance during the season of goodwill, but it’s worth checking to be sure. AA policies, for example, automatically increase the insured value of your home’s contents by 20% for 30 days on either side of Christmas.

Find the best credit card for you, whether you're looking for 0% card for balance transfers or purchases or day to day spending and rewards

About Salman Haqqi

Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press such as The Express, Travel Daily, and The Daily Star.

View Salman Haqqi's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.

About Salman Haqqi

Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press.

View Salman Haqqi's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.