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Tips for a frugal festive season

Posted on 24 November 2021


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but Christmas can also be an expensive time. Use these top tips to reduce the financial stress and avoid costs spilling over into January.

Set a budget

First work out what you can afford to spend. The typical UK household spends an extra £800 in December, mainly on food, alcohol and presents. That’s a lot of extra costs to absorb from December’s pay packet, so many end up paying well into the new year.

If you’ve never made a budget before, try reading our article on Budgeting for Beginners. Once created, put your budget somewhere visible like the fridge door to help you stick to it.

Stock up and save

Over the next few weeks, look out for special offers and discounted items that you can pop in the freezer for the festive period. Many items, including grated cheese, meat, soups and even cake can be frozen to use at a later date. Just ensure the food is within its ‘use by’ date before freezing.

Save money on food

Many go all out at Christmas, buying the best of everything to treat friends and family. But is that food product really the best or is that simply what a marketeer wants you to believe? The packaging might look more opulent, but look at the ingredients list to see if you can tell the difference.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, try ‘downshifting’ some standard family favourites – go from branded to supermarket own-brand and see if they notice. You may be surprised by the results. If they don’t notice a difference, stick with the cheaper product.

Ban unnecessary gifts

Often, we end up swapping gifts with certain people just out of social obligation. It feels a bit pointless if you’re not enjoying the act of gift-giving and receiving back things you don’t need.

Also remember that gift-giving creates an obligation on recipients to give back, whether they can afford it or not. For some, the gift of "not obliging you to buy for me" is actually better.

It might be worth having an honest conversation with people to say that you’re not expecting them to buy you a gift this year and suggesting you just swap cards instead. Make it clear it’s not personal - you’re just trying to be more thoughtful about your spending.

Retail discounts

Through your employer you may be able to access retail discounts. These allow you to save money on everything from grocery shopping to luxury brands. Many are available as e-vouchers on your mobile phone, making it quick and easy to save while you shop.

Technology benefit

Likewise, some employers offer staff the chance to spread the cost of big-ticket items over several months by taking payments directly from your salary. Popular purchases include TVs, phones, gaming systems, tablets and more. Check with your employer to see if they offer this.

Regift it

If you have presents from last year you’ve never used, there’s no reason not to regift it to a new recipient. If you can’t think of anyone suitable, see if you can sell it on eBay or Facebook Marketplace for some extra cash.

Costs can stack up around Christmas, but try to be clear with yourself about what you can afford and how to make the best use of your money.

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