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How I'm planning to make next Christmas less painful for my budget

I'm a bit of a Christmas nut - I love the sparkly lights and the festive feels. I'm also on a student budget, so next year, I'm determined to make Christmas a bit easier on my wallet. Here's how I'm going to go about it...

1. Making the most of loyalty points
If you shop in any of the big supermarkets and most high street chains, chances are you have a loyalty card somewhere. You know, the sort of thing: spend so many pounds, get a few points, then later you can use those points to get a discount on your shopping. I do most of my shopping at the same supermarket so at the end of the year, there's normally a decent amount of loyalty points. I use them all just before Christmas to buy food for the big day and, if there's any extra left after all the food's bought and paid for, the rest gets spend on a bottle of wine...

2. And the same with my credit card
I reckon if you do any spending on a credit card at all, you might as well get paid for it. There are a few credit cards out there that offer cash back on spending - up to five percent back in some cases. Unless you're a big spender, then cashback credit cards are probably not going to make you rich, but as money for nothing goes, it's not a bad way to get a few quid. (That said, if you ever have problems managing your money, then avoid credit cards like the plague - they'll end up costing you more in charges and fees than you save.) Like with loyalty points, I'll be saving up all the cash I earn from credit card spending, and putting it towards next year's Christmas presents.

3. And the same with cashback accounts
If you haven't used Quidco and TopCashback for all your online shopping, you're seriously missing out. For almost zero effort, you can get a percentage of the price you pay for your purchase back. Normally, referrers will get paid a little for sending retailers new customers. Cashback sites site give you a proportion of that fee back. Over the year, use the cashback sites to make money back on your purchases, but don't touch anything you earn. At Christmas, cash out and put the saving towards your festive spending. And, if you're planning on buying anyone a voucher, do it using your Quidco/TopCashback payment. if you choose vouchers, you'll get more than the face value of the payment - for example, Quidco gives you an extra 15 percent if you convert your cashback into Debenhams vouchers. I normally opt for the cold, hard cash, and put it towards festive spends.

4. Get help from an app
There are a few handy apps out there that can help you start setting money aside for Christmas today without putting a strain on your budget. Moneysaving apps like Chip and Squirrel are designed to help you put small amounts of money away without you even noticing they're gone - by rounding up your bills in Chip's case (if you're spending £3.10 on a coffee, for example, Chip can round it up to £3.30 and put the difference in a savings account) or buy ringfencing part of your paycheque in Squirrel's, the idea is that little amounts over the year can end up a decent amount of money by Christmas. I've downloaded Chip, and I'm hoping it'll be able to help me save towards the next festive season.

5. Buy a few things in the January sales - even my Christmas pudding
Every Christmas, there's always some novelty news story about someone who went to the January sales and bought everything for Christmas the next year. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but there are some things that are definitely worth visiting the sales for. Christmas cards are always good to buy in the sales, as they cost a fraction of what they do before Christmas, and you can just keep them safe until you need them in 12 months time. If any of your Christmas decorations need replacing, it's not a bad time to pick up some new ones. It's even worth checking out all the Christmas food - there are sometimes Christmas puddings with 18 month sell-by dates. For real. I love a Christmas pudding that can outlast the apocalypse. I'll be sniffing around the supermarkets just after this Christmas for a few bargains for the next one!

6. Just have a little less Christmas
Faith at Much More with Less recently wrote a plea for a little less Christmas, about how presents don't need to keep getting more expensive, celebrations keep getting more and more elaborate, and how they really don't need to. I'm terrible for going a bit mad at Christmas, planning loads of events, buying tonnes of presents, and filling my fridge with food. A few days later, and Christmas is all over, and I wonder why I bought half the stuff I did. I do love Christmas, and I want it to be perfect, so I find myself overspending. I just need to remind myself that all the best things about Christmas - getting together with all the people I like, and sharing a meal or a drink with them - doesn't need to be as expensive as I make it. Next year, I'm going to read this post and remind myself to slow Christmas down a bit!

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  1. The nice thing about making Christmas budget friendly, is that it goes nicely with being kind to the environment - this article seemed quite a good one https://theconversation.com/how-to-have-yourself-a-plastic-free-christmas-108828 to make me think about how I celebrate. And I am all for points. I was so happy to have a bit injection into my frequent flyer points from my local supermarket in December.

  2. Hope you had a great holiday! Awesome tips, it's never too early to get ready for next Christmas. :-)

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  4. Aw thanks for mentioning my post with a plea for a little less Christmas. Really do think you can have a brilliant time without spending loads of money - good luck next year!


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