THERE are just two pay days until Christmas for most households, and a savvy couple has revealed how to stretch your cash.
Making Christmas budgets work harder is on the nationâs mind due to the rising cost of bills and food.
New research by Tesco has found that almost one in five people (17%) are feeling more financial pressure this Christmas compared to previous years, and this rises to 22% amongst 25â44-year-olds.
To help the nation spend less and make Christmas more affordable, money-saving gurus and thrifty parents Ricky and Naomi Willis have revealed ways to make your money last for two months.
Ricky and Naomi run the successful Skint Dad website and at budgeting and finding bargains.
Ricky said: âThe festive season can be a worrying time for many families due to the extra financial costs associated with getting into the Christmas spirit.
“Even though we know Christmas comes at the same time every year, with the rising cost of living crisis, including the extra burden of increasing energy bills, money that might have been put aside for December may have been used up elsewhere.
âHowever, with a few pay days left until Santa arrives, there are ways that families can maximise their finances now, shop smart and spend less, so that everyone can have a joyful Christmas without having overstretched themselves.
“Itâs also important to not feel pressured by what Christmas âshouldâ look like and remember that an affordable great Christmas is still possible.â
Ricky and Naomi, who’ve previously revealed how they turned their lives around after falling into debt, have shared their saving tips.
1. Set a budget
Many people say they like to get Halloween, fireworks night, or any other occasion out of the way before they start thinking about Christmas.
However, planning in advance means youâre less likely to overspend as we creep closer to Christmas.
So, before you do anything, you need to determine what you can afford rather than what youâd like to spend.
Thinking about this a couple of pay days ahead can give you a bit of extra buffer as you can use clever ways to save and shop smart to give yourself a little more in your budget.
2. Get a list and check it twice
If making a list and checking it twice worked for Father Christmas, it can certainly help everyone else trying to not go over-budget.
Planning what you need to buy means you donât miss anything and have a last-minute panic.
You also have less of an urge to impulse buy and can tick things off as you shop, so you donât accidentally buy items twice.
Ensure your list includes what youâd like to eat and drink over the festive period and any gifts you may need to make or purchase.
When you know what youâll need, you can shop when things are on offer or even in the Black Friday sales to get the best prices.
3. Get a discount on your Christmas food shop
With your shopping list in hand, you will likely already use tactics such as branding down (buying own-label foods, not branded) but there is a guaranteed way to save more.
Tesco Clubcard members can take advantage of Clubcard Prices to unlock exclusive deals, so plan to check out what deals are available each week.
The prices will be reduced when you checkout.
We recently published a full list of supermarket saver schemes you can use to save your money this festive season.
Lots of places offer these kinds of schemes, The Sun recommends shopping around for the best bargains.
4. Eat smart
Being smart with your food shop is not just about meal planning – which can save you a whole lot of money on your grocery bill.
To save even more money in your weekly budget, which you can use towards Christmas, try to think up new and creative ways to use your leftovers.
Not only will you reduce food waste, but you can essentially create a whole new meal for free.
You could even use a food-sharing app to get free food from other members of your local community.
Simply check the app to see what you can get for free near you, then create a meal plan around what you get.
5. Consider gifting differently
While you may want to buy gifts for everyone in your family, times are financially tough, and it can be a real stretch to get something both meaningful and affordable for your budget.
Why not consider doing something different with presents? There are a few options.
If there are a lot of people to buy for, a Secret Santa is a great option where a group of family, friends or colleagues plan a gift exchange.
Instead of getting something for everyone, you get one gift, and everyone receives something.
You can agree on a budget and theme in advance to make it more fun.
Making a DIY gift is also an option and allows you to give something more personalised and thoughtful, whether itâs a foodie gift such as a treat hamper or homemade chocolates, infused oils or even bath salts.
6. Fuel up wisely
In the lead-up to Christmas, it’s important to think about how you’re spending every penny and ensuring it works hard for you.
For example, instead of making multiple trips to buy food and then heading elsewhere to get fuel, you may want to fuel up at the supermarket.
Most major supermarkets have their own petrol forecourts too.
By doing this, Tesco Clubcard members, for example, can collect two Clubcard points for every Â£1 they spend, which you can save up to use towards your Christmas shopping.
Alternatively, you can use your Clubcard points on fuel at Tesco to reduce the price at the till, meaning you have more cash in your pocket to spend on other things.
We recently covered how to get cheaper fuel at other supermarkets too including Asda and Morrisons.
It’s always worth having a look around for the cheapest fuel prices in your area before you fill up.
7. Use your loyalty points
Itâs always worth joining free loyalty programmes, even if you donât shop somewhere often as your points will add up, and you can use them to help you save money.
Some programmes offer really great rewards, for example with Tesco Clubcard, instead of using your loyalty points at their face value, you can get up to three times more value with hundreds of rewards.
Exchange your points for experiences and gifts the whole family would love.
Why not turn Â£5 in Clubcard points into a Â£15 cinema voucher and add a pack of popcorn to turn it into a hamper for a film buff?
Or you could use your Clubcard points towards the cost of a family meal or gift a magazine subscription.
Several supermarkets offer different loyalty schemes, we always recommend looking around for the most rewarding ones.
8. Cut back on unnecessary spending
You can add more money straight into your budget if you cut back on your day-to-day spending, and unnecessary Christmas costs.
It may not be that you need to cut back on your favourite things altogether but instead look at ways to reduce what you spend.
For example, instead of getting a weekly takeaway, save and cook a fakeaway from home.
If you’re a coffee drinker, most cafÃ©s offer a discount if you use your own reusable cup or join their loyalty programmes which tend to offer a free coffee over time.
Itâs about saving with a compromise and then those cuts will all help your overall Christmas budget expand.
9. Shop for one thing a week
Instead of doing a large shop right before Christmas, which can be a shock to your bank balance, spread the cost of your festive favourites by picking up Christmas essentials each time you shop.
An extra item here or there shouldnât have too much of an impact on your weekly food budget, and you can make the most of deals such as “Tesco Low Everyday Prices” and Aldi’s specialbuys.
Doing this allows you to get frozen food and store cupboard essentials, such as stuffing, gravy, condiments, frozen party food, and treats, such as chocolates, well in advance â and at a lower cost.
And, although itâs tempting, try not to eat your Christmas chocolates too soon, or itâll end up costing you double.
10. Have a pre-December clear out
A spring clean in winter is a good idea when youâll be putting a tree up and need the extra room, but it can also help give you more cash in your Christmas budget.
Whether itâs previous unwanted gifts, old mobile phones, clothes, toys or games, now can be the perfect time to sell them.
Other bargain hunters will also plan ahead and want to pick up deals on their Christmas gifts, so youâd be helping each other.
A Tesco spokesperson said: âTesco is committed to helping people spend less this Christmas, which is why weâve locked the price on over 1000 products at Low Everyday Prices, as well as offering shoppers great value with Clubcard Prices and Aldi Price Match, not to mention our Clubcard Rewards Partners which allow Clubcard Members to save on their shopping and days out.
“With two pay days left until Christmas weâve partnered with Skint Dad to share simple yet savvy tips which we hope will help people have an affordable and joyful Christmas.â
If you’re looking for some tips and tricks on how to buy cheaply for Christmas this year, we’ve been looking at some of the best deals for you.
From presents to food we’ve got you covered on the bargains to keep your festive season costs as low as possible.
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