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Many spend as much on festivities as on a summer holiday. It’s one of the year’s big annual expenditures so everything you can do to lighten the load is positive. Let me run through some key thoughts about keeping Christmas finances under control when things are stretched.
Let the finances rule, not the festivities
Don’t sit there and design a lust list of how to have the best possible Christmas – for most people that just leads to debt or disappointment (more so likely this year).
Instead first work out how much you’ve got to spend and ask what’s the best Christmas you can have within that budget.
If you’re really struggling, and have nothing, then go cold turkey. Have fun, see family (within the Govt guidelines), watch the telly, but try not to spend money.
Christmas is just one day. Far more important is a happy, financially stress-free New Year.
Make a no-unnecessary present pact
Yes, it’s the season of goodwill but that doesn’t mean you need to turn Christmas into a retail festival, by buying unnecessary, often unwanted gifts for friends and family because they bought you a gift.
That just adds to costs, stress and isn’t good for the environment. And don’t see this as a negative, millions have viewed and liked my videos on this, with comments like this from Julia, who tweeted me: “@MartinSLewis, finally took your advice and told family I can’t afford Xmas presents. What a weight off my mind. Thank you.”
See my full www.mse.me/banChristmaspresents blog for more on the theory.
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Earn free £125 in time for Christmas
A few bank accounts pay you to switch to them, even better do it soon and you could get the money in time for Christmas.
Newbies to www.hsbc.co.uk can get free £125 switching to its Advance account – to qualify, you need to fully switch, including two+ direct debits/standing orders, within 30 days, and pay in min £1,750/mth (equivalent to a min £25,600/yr salary).
The cash comes 30 days after the switch completes – so in time to help with the Christmas costs. For full eligibility see www.mse.me/topbankaccounts.
Give time not money
Presents don’t have to equate to big bucks. Quite often loved ones prefer homemade personal gifts, like homemade jams or sweets, or even just giving your time (which is completely free).
Go to www.mse.me/ChristmasGiftCheques and print out a promise to someone like giving a ‘massage’ (nudge, nudge) for your loved one, babysitting or letting the kids have a sleepover (when allowed). So, pledge to do something nice, not spend.
Set up a Christmas cupboard
Work out now what you want to buy, then if you spot a bargain, you can pounce on it when there’s a code, voucher or discount that’s cheaper (ensure you get the weekly email at www.moneysavingexpert.com to tell you).
Even better, once you buy a present, bag it, wrap it, and pop it in a Christmas cupboard – gradually getting the chores done.
Earn five percent cashback on your Christmas shopping
If you’re going to be spending for Christmas you might as well do it on a card that pays you.
The no annual-fee www.americanexpress.com Everyday credit card pays five percent cashback on your first three months’ spending (max £100), then up to one percent after.
Get it now and this coincides with the high Christmas-period spend (cashback won’t be paid till a year later, and after you spend £3k+).
Ensure you set up a direct debit to repay IN FULL each month to avoid the 22.9 percent rep APR.
Martin Lewis is the Founder and Chair of MoneySavingExpert.com. To join the 13 million people who get his free Money Tips weekly email, go to www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip
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