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The 12 saves of Christmas

The 12 saves of Christmas

If you're facing Christmas on a tight budget, don't panic. The good news is there are still plenty of opportunities to cut costs in the run-up to the big day.

So here are our 12 (money) saves of Christmas.

1. Plan your budget in advance

List all the things you're going to need to pay for, such as food, drink, presents, decorations, etc. Make sure you don't miss anything out.

Then you need to work out how much you can afford to pay for it all. If you go over budget in one area, don't worry, keep reading this guide and we'll show you how to cut back some of your costs.

Once you've finalised your budget, make sure you stick to it!

2. Look for free stuff!

Are you looking for a Christmas tree or some decorations? Perhaps you need some extra chairs, so everyone can fit round the Christmas dinner table? Before you spend any money, see what you can get free. Using sites like Freegle, Freecycle and SnaffleUp, you can pick up a huge variety of items other people want to give away.

3. Get secondhand bargains

If you can't get what you're after for nothing, see if you can hunt down a second-hand Christmas bargain for just a few pence. Furniture, clothes and gift possibilities are all out there – you just need to know where to look. Try charity shops, second-hand shops and car boot sales. Or look online at the likes of eBay and Amazon Marketplace.

[The worst ways to pay for Christmas]

4. Always compare prices

When shopping for Christmas presents, find the item that you want at the cheapest price using price comparison websites such as Kelkoo or PriceRunner. Or try a deal-finding service such as Flubit or Stuffster.

5. Hunt for vouchers

Before you spend any cash, see if there are any voucher codes you could use to knock down the cost of your purchase. One of the best places to look is the bargains website HotUKDeals, but there are loads of others to check out including, MyVoucherCodes and vouchercloud.

6. Earn cashback or rewards

You can also save pounds by shopping via cashback websites like Quidco or TopCashback, which pay you for shopping at certain retailers. It's always worth checking if the cashback on offer is a higher percentage than any vouchers out there. If you do opt for cashback, you probably won't see your money for a couple of months, but it could well help with your New Year bills.

And don't forget cashback credit cards are a great way to earn extra money on all your spending. The American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday card pays 5% cashback on up to £2,000 of spending in the first three months you have the card.

Or if you prefer the opportunity to earn free flights, holidays, Clubcard or Nectar points, take a look at top reward credit cards. The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card offers 20,000 points when you spend £2,000 in the first three months. These can be exchanged for £100 gift cards from the likes of M&S, Amazon, Homebase and House of Fraser.

[Compare cashback credit cards]

7. Use MySupermarket

Shopping site MySupermarket can help you find out where you can get the cheapest festive ingredients. The site compares the price of groceries at Aldi, Asda, Ocado, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

8. Make your loyalty points count

Many people save up their supermarket loyalty card points all year, and then spend them on a whopping Christmas dinner shop. In fact, loyalty points are usually worth more if you spend them online, rather than at the supermarket, so if you have some take a look at what presents they could pay for first.

9. Send free e-cards

There are plenty of e-cards available that can be sent to your whole email address book in seconds, and some are even free. Many have unlimited space for your message, so you could even squeeze in your annual Christmas letter to boot. Check out 123 greetings, Blue Mountain and egreetings for free Christmas e-cards – and for free charity cards take a look at Macmillan and SOS Children's villages.

10. Get a free message from Santa

There are two ways for the children in your life to get a free personalised message from Santa this Christmas. You can do it the old-fashioned way and write to him courtesy of Royal Mail (although be aware they have a reputation for not replying to everyone). If you prefer a video message, head to the Portable North Pole website.

11. Party on the cheap

If you're planning to celebrate Christmas with a meal out, find a cheap and cheerful place to do it. You could try the likes of your local Wetherspoon's or look out for vouchers at the likes of, MyVoucherCodes and vouchercloud.

12. Postpone your main celebration for a few days

This is a fairly radical option admittedly but if you can wait even just a couple of days you'll find that you can pick up Christmas dinner cheap in the supermarkets and take advantage of the sales for your presents.

[You’re doing your Christmas shopping wrong!]

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