After the last two years, and especially after Christmas last year that was cancelled (I spent Christmas day alone in 2020 - it was refreshingly chilled and enjoyable!), it’ll be tempting to spend this Christmas gifts for everyone, the best food the best decorations and all the Christmas parties and drinks. But what if you can’t afford to?
Christmas is one day, or two months from a retail perspective. It really isn’t worth getting into debt over. The message I will be sharing from Mrs Mummypenny over October, November and December is that Christmas can be celebrated by spending less money but spending more TIME with the people you love and cherish.
Working with Zopa is a gift when it comes to sharing my ideas on this. We are both so passionate about financial education and helping others to be comfortable with personal finance. So here are some practical tips and tricks that your January bank balance will thank you for.
Reassess your Christmas Gift List
I would love you to think about your Christmas gift list now (I’m writing this in October). That list of people that you want to buy gifts for- your children, family and those people who have impacted your life positively this year - do you really NEED to buy gifts for all these people?
Think about who you really want to buy for
Maybe you have written their names as you have always bought gifts for them, it’s a habit. But it could be time to break the habit. Have a conversation and agree to not buy gifts this year. You will be surprised how many people are eceptive to this. It’s a perfect solution for all those aunts/uncles/cousins who you usually give Boots smellies or gift vouchers. There is no point to these gifts given for the sake of giving and habit.
Hopefully now you have a list of the important people you want to give gifts too. My children will obviously always be on that list. As will my close family, sister, niece and nephew (although in recent years when I was paying off my 16k of debt we had that conversation about gifts, and we DIDN’T exchange gifts). I will also be giving small gifts to people who have been incredible in recent tough times, mainly my close friends.
Start planning – now!
Allocate a few ideas of pressies to the people on the list and a budget. I am going to be making a selection of handmade gifts, a perfect time to make these is October half term with the children. I make things like little bottles of foraged blackberry/fruit gin, chutney, jam. All of these are best made earlier as they need to mature a bit before Christmas. These will cost around £4 to £5 per person including the Aldi basic gin, bottles bought from the range, sugar etc.
Add up your list and you have a total of what gifts for Christmas are going to cost.
How to Maximise Loyalty Cards and Vouchers to Pay for Christmas Presents
I am on a mission to pay for ALL my Christmas presents using loyalty points, vouchers, online savings sites and entering competitions. You can do the same. Here are some ideas for you to get going.
Loyalty Cards and Apps
I have every loyalty card/app that exists! I have the cards/apps for the big retailers, Tesco, Boots, Nectar, John Lewis, Co-op plus all the smaller schemes, Costa, Pets at Home, Hobbycraft, Waterstones, Paperchase, Subway, even my local independent garden centre. The list goes on and on. And I use ALL these schemes to save money at Christmas time.
Nectar Points/Avios Points
Nectar and Avios are now in partnership, and you can earn points on one loyalty scheme and swap over to the other. I use my Nectar account wherever it works including Sainsburys, Argos, Esso, eBay. I also have a fee free American Express Blue BA credit card that I use for some regular monthly spends and pay off in full each month.
I currently have 24,000 Avios points and 385 Nectar Points. If I convert all my Avios points into Nectar (complex maths coming up: 250 Avios is worth 400 Nectar points. 24,000/250 = 96 * 400 Nectar = 38,400 Nectar Points. These are worth £2.50 for every 500 points), it means I have points worth £190 of vouchers that I can spend in Sainsburys where I can get A LOT of Christmas presents.
Have a look at your Nectar account and Avios account if you have them and check your balances. You could be sitting on a goldmine of free vouchers. If you don’t have them, set them up straight away and start collecting points on your everyday spending.
Other Loyalty Cards
The best loyalty cards for rewards that will help with Christmas presents are the supermarket and big shop cards/apps. Tesco Clubcard is a great one to use to save up your Clubcard vouchers. I began using Tesco more often this year and always use my Clubcard to collect points on food and grocery spending. Even with little Tesco spending I have vouchers worth £9.
Boots is a shop that I might shop at once a month, and I always use the Boots loyalty scheme. I have at least £3 saved up on that card.
The Co-op loyalty scheme is a good one, where you get 2p back on every £1 you spend on Co-op own brand products, plus money is also donated to local charities. Save up the pennies on here and maybe get a bottle of Christmas wine or Christmas biscuits.
The food apps might not be great for actual Christmas presents, but you could use them to give vouchers to family/friends. Create a voucher saying ‘I will cover a Subway six-inch sub for lunch one day’. I have 1000 points on my Subway app currently, enough to get two six-inch subs or two salad bowls. Or ‘I will get you a costa coffee’, using the rewards you have collected on your Costa App.
Shout out to local independent garden centre (and lockdown saviour) Vanstone Park who have just sent me a voucher or £2.50 off any spend plus a save £10 when I spend £40 voucher.
Cash back on All Online Purchases
Another wonderful way to save and make extra money for Christmas is to use cash back websites for all your online purchases. Set up an account with the cash back site and go there first to find your chosen retailer. Then click though as normal to your chosen retailer or bill provider, triggering the cookies and getting you the cash back if you make a purchase (in two-four weeks once confirmed).
This is something I do often and save up my cash back savings to use at Christmas. The big websites to use are Top Cashback or Quidco. I personally use Top Cash Back as I find their cash back %s are higher.
In the last few months, I have earned £3.60 from an AO dishwasher purchase. £2 from booking train tickets, £3 for booking a hotel and £2 from buying a birthday hamper, £30 from a home insurance purchase. Total of £40.60 in Cash Back.
I can then withdraw this as cash to my bank account or can exchange for vouchers and get an additional boost. For example, I can get a 6% bonus for Adidas or Nike, 11% bonus for Primark or 5% bonus for Waterstones. So many places perfect for Christmas gifting. This means I can turn my £40.60 into £43.04 to spend at Adidas, ideal for one of my boys.
Selling Your Clutter
Selling your clutter is a brilliant and quick way to get hold of money for Christmas. I urge you to spend ten minutes looking around your house and finding ten items that you no longer use or want that you can sell. Once you start finding things to sell though, it will be hard to stop!
eBay is great for selling branded clothes, anything vintage or trendy. Facebook groups are great for selling toys and bigger furniture items locally. I set up the Knebworth Items for Sale group five years ago that now has 6000 members! Look at apps such as Vinted and Depop for selling clothes too, these are smaller than eBay but have lower fees. I think you can get at least £50 for selling ten things!
You could also try a car boot sale. I did one of these before lockdown with one of my children and we made £200 in one day. And had such fun doing it. I promise we didn’t reinvest any of the profits into bacon sandwiches and coffee.
Sell your old Tech
Another fantastic way to make money is to sell your old devices. I knew I had several old tablets and mobiles phone in drawers, somewhere – turns out it was two Samsung tablets, an Amazon tablet and two Samsung phones.
I have popped in all the details into Music Magpie, which will buy and recycle all old tech products. My five old tech items are worth £87. AMAZING. I just need to box them up and take them to my nearest Asda who will send to Music Magpie.
Once checked and confirmed the money will be transferred to my bank account.
I LOVE this one and admit to entering Instagram competitions every day. There are SO many competitions on Instagram and all you must do is Like, Follow and tag a few fellow competition loving friends.
The odds are in your favour the more you enter! Since September I have won two books, a Hi-Sense Soundbar worth £70 that I will gift as a Christmas present to a family member. And wait for it, £500 of One 4 All shopping vouchers from a Kwik fit Instagram competition.
Follow people like Super Lucky Di who will inspire you to enter competitions and remember you have to be in it to win it.
Totting up my voucher/winning ways
Nectar Points £190
Vanstone Garden Centre £2.50
Top cashback £43
Sell your clutter £50
Music Magpie £87
Plus, the £570 worth of competition prizes won. This means I am not far off £1000 towards Christmas, this more than covers my gift list, food and treats spending planned.
What about you? How much can you find using these methods to help pay for Christmas and what can you get set up right now? There is still time to use loyalty apps and generate free cash/vouchers from your regular everyday spending.