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Christmas countdown: how to save at the last minute

Christmas is around the corner – which means your finances could be about to take a hit. To try and ease the pressure we’ve put together some tips to help you save some extra cash in time for Christmas.

03 November 2017Hannah Salih 4 min read

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The summer clothes are in storage, the Halloween sweets are finished and fireworks night is over, leaving Christmas as the next big event left in your calendar.

There's still plenty of time for Christmas shopping, but if you haven’t saved up in advance, you could be about to face a tight few weeks ahead (beans on toast, anyone?).

So how can you make your money stretch further over the festive period?

Tip 1: Set a realistic goal

In order to start saving quickly you need a goal to aim for. And if your goal is to save for Christmas, you'll need to know how much extra you'll want to spend over the festive season.

So whether it’s your turn to fork out for the Turkey, or you’ve got a hundred Christmas parties to attend, make sure you know how much you'll need to cover the cost of each, and add it to your list.

It doesn't matter if your goal is £50 or £500, having a number in mind will help you stay motivated. Remember that saving quickly is going to be more effort than saving in the long term, as you may be impacted by it more day-to-day.

Tip 2: Put your money where you can see it

A good way to think of saving quickly is like you’re filling up a piggy bank. By putting the money in one place - separate to the rest of your cash - you can avoid the temptation to spend it before you've reached your goal.

The same applies here. When you start to save, it's worth putting your money to one side - away from your day-to-day finances.

So this means you may want to consider opening up a new account. For short term savings, you'll need one that will allow you to add in and withdraw your money easily. One way to go is current accounts - they're quick to set up and they give you instant access to your money when you need it.

You could even use a digital bank such as Monzo or Revolut. Since these are specialised apps, they make it easy to transfer money around. You could also use an app designed for managing your money, such as Cleo or Chip. Here’s our take on the best mobile apps out there. But bear in mind it's harder to deposit cash into these kinds of accounts.

Tip 3: Cut down

This may be a little obvious. But if you’re looking to save more generally, cutting down on your expenses is the best way to do it. The big cuts you can make (like remortgaging) take time. But there are few things you can do to help shred down your expenses reasonably quickly:

  • Cut one expense completely.

    You can’t cut down every expense you have, but going cold turkey on one (such as your daily coffee or your expensive Friday lunch) will give you a clear focus (and some extra money). A Starbucks medium latte is £2.60, in 6 weeks cutting that one daily expense gives you an extra £78.

  • Cancel unused memberships.

    Why wait until the new year to refresh your finances? If there’s anything you’re not really using, unsubscribing now will leave you with one month’s savings.

  • Switch energy bills now.

    It should only take around 17 days to switch, and there are big savings to be had. The average household is overpaying on their energy bills by £249 a year. You can see exactly how much you could save in the 'Offers' section of your ClearScore account.

  • Try out a ‘no spend day’.

    On one day a week, try not to spend any money. That may mean walking to work or only cooking what's already in your cupboard. By consciously spending nothing on one day a week, it'll give you a bit extra to spend on days where you have slightly more expensive plans.

  • Spend money on the things that matter.

    Try not to spend money on unnecessary expenses. For example, instead of getting a takeaway when you’re home alone, save that money for a Christmas meal out with friends.

Tip 4: Make a bit extra

You may not be able to pick up a fully-fledged side-hustle in the next couple of weeks, but there are some ways you can give your incomings a boost for the festive season.

  • Consider switching your bank account for a cash bonus.

    HSBC, Co-Op, Marks & Spencer and First Direct, all offer a cash incentive if you switch to their current account. Just make sure you read the terms and conditions to find out what you need to do to receive the money.

  • Sign up for a cashback service.

    You can't really avoid buying Christmas gifts at Christmas. But you can try to make some money from your purchases. Signing up for a service like Quidco can pay small amounts of cashback. Or if you have a cashback credit card, you might find spending in certain places will give you a return on your spending.

  • Get involved in online surveys.

    There are a number of sites such as Valued Opinions and i-Say that let you complete online research surveys in return for cash or shopping vouchers.

  • Don’t forget to follow up if people owe you money.

    With lots of socialising around this time you may find the IOU’s begin to add up. To make it a bit easier to keep track you could try the app Splitwise which makes it easy to keep a running tab. Don’t forget, with speedy saving, every penny counts.

  • See if you have anything you can sell.

    If you have anything, especially electronics, that are in a good condition now is the perfect time to sell. There will be lots of people looking to buy discounted Christmas presents. You could try Depop, eBay, Shpock or even a car boot sale.

Tip 5: Get savvy

Here are a few extra tips and tricks that can help you gather up that little Christmas bonus for yourself.

  • Only use cash.

    For lots of people, cash is harder to part with psychologically than spending on a card. While you may not want to do this long-term, doing it for only a few weeks can really make a difference. It will help make sure all your purchases are more mindful and purposeful.

  • Save your spare change.

    While you’re only using cash, try putting the change you get under £5 in your piggy bank. Let this accumulate over a month. Although cash is generally hard to part with, loose change is easier to fritter away.

  • Squeeze out any rewards that you can.

    Check to see if you have any gift cards, vouchers, or credit card rewards that might expire in the new year.

Now the only thing left to do is to get saving and start stocking up on the mince pies.

Hannah Salih Image

Written by Hannah Salih

Content Creator

Hannah is currently studying for a Master's in Comparative Cultural Analysis. She knows all about personal finance, but as a student, she's an expert in money saving tips and tricks.