Gosh, it's 65 days to Christmas and not a child in the house washed! Ever heard the old adage, "Before Christmas has even said 'hello’, it’s saying ‘buy buy’"? Well, some things never change – but never fear! There are plenty of ways to be frugal in the run-up to Christmas without unleashing your inner Scrooge.
Here are 7 salient tips for the festive season from John Lowe of Money Doctors…
1. Go cold turkey
We might as well start with the hardest one. Addicted to your morning latte? Buy your lunch out every day? Cherish the Friday takeaway? That bottle of water in the gym? Start carrying a travel mug, bringing meals to work and cooking at home – being thrifty from now until Christmas could easily save €50-€60 per week. You’ll thank yourself, and so will the environment.
2. Make a list, check it twice
If Santa can do it, so can you! We’re all familiar with the pre-holiday food stock up, the leftovers that invariably follow Christmas Day – and the endless sandwiches, stirfries and salads that follow. Avoid overstocking by making a grocery list and sticking to it. Splitting your shopping into several mini-trips in the run-up to the big day can also save on panic buying, saving you money.
3. Call in your favours
Many supermarkets run Christmas offers in October for those with loyalty cards. SuperValu had in previous years a half-price turkey promotion for those collecting vouchers throughout November and the start of December; while Tesco, Dunnes and others had a range of reduced prices. Expect the same this year. This can be particularly useful for token presents for colleagues or business associates – for example, avail of one of the many offers on discounted wine or spirits and save some money while ticking off that socially mandated gift exchange.
4. Be someone’s Secret Santa
Chances are, you’re not the only one in your family struggling to find cash at this time of year. Reach out to your relatives and suggest running Kris Kringle with a set budget between you all, or agree that aunts and uncles across the board will cut back on presents for each other’s kids this time around.
5. Give the gift of time
Think about what your friends and family would really value, that won’t cost you money. Do you have a skill they’re lacking, like a talent for technology or some keen green fingers? Maybe you have a couple of free Friday nights that you could offer to spend babysitting, washing a car or walking a friend’s dogs. It’s much more likely that gifts like these will be more appreciated, memorable – and affordable – than any bucket of bath products from Boots. You can even personalise them by making your own vouchers and popping them inside a card.
6. Change bank accounts
There are plenty of banks out there just itching to bring in new customers. An Post Money’s new Smart Account pays money back directly into your account rather than points when you use their debit card plus their credit card is worth considering if you are thinking of transferring your card balance from another provider – a tasty 12 months at 0% interest... If you can save money while paying for essentials you’d be forking out for anyway, so why not try it?
7. Do a deal
Trawl online discount websites for gifts before resorting to full-price retailers. GroupOn, LivingSocial, DoneDeal and Pigsback often have excellent rates on high-quality products and experiences. In particular, they’re a great source of pamper packages, spa days and luxury meals at affordable prices. For holidays - when they resume - SkyScanner, Trivago and Booking.com can’t be beaten.
There you have it: high holiday spirits without the high prices. Happy saving.