Every single year I do it..but not this year! This year I am actually preparing myself for Christmas WELL in advance. With 4 kids and all the usual family to buy for Christmas is a very expensive time for us and (before now) I have never got round to putting together a strategy to ensure I am not left broke and stressed to the max by Boxing Day! Usually i'll leave my Christmas shopping until November and then stress out that I have spent most of our November (and December!) income on just presents for the kids - never mind anyone else.
BUT..this year it's going to be different! In January I was thoroughly peeved with myself that yet again I hadn't adequately prepared for Christmas, after all we all know it's coming! So there and then I decided I was going to put a plan into action to ensure Christmas 2017 was going to be different.
Here are my 5 (easy-ish) ways I am saving for Christmas 2017, and you can too:
1. Save with Park.
Park is the biggest Christmas savings club out there and helps near half a million families every year save for that special time of year. Your money is held in Trust, so is completely safe. You simply go on to the website, plan your Christmas shopping spree from the thousands of available gifts, vouchers and gift cards (the website will tell you how much you will need to pay each month) and then set up your payments. I have chosen £650 Love 2 Shop vouchers, £100 Primark voucher and £150 Sainsburys voucher and I am saving £90 per month straight from my bank account on pay day. The L2S vouchers will buy almost all of the kids presents, the Primark voucher will be used for Christmas day outfits and Christmas Eve PJ's and the Sainsburys vouchers will be the majority of our food shop (along with my Clubcard vouchers, see below). Some people might wonder why I choose to use Park instead of using a savings account..I just couldn't be trusted not to spend it! There always seems to be something that comes up and if I had £xxx sitting in my savings for Christmas it would be just too tempting! This way I cannot touch it at all until my vouchers come through.
2. Clubcard Vouchers
Usually we do pretty well with Clubcard..I do quite a lot of shopping at Tesco, hubby fills up his van at a Tesco or Esso garage whenever he can and we're with EON for our gas and electric, who also give us points, but I wasn't aware until earlier this year that you can save your points for a once yearly pay out rather than getting them every quarter like you would do usually. There is just an option within your Clubcard account online to opt into the Christmas Saver Scheme, and then they will pay you out in November ready for your Christmas shop. I have set a target of £100 vouchers (am at £40-odd at the moment) and am supplementing our normal spends with a bit of wombling (see below!). With that £100 I am planning on spending half in store on our Christmas booze, and the other half will be doubled for a £100 Red Letter Day voucher for my in-laws Christmas present. Hopefully I might exceed my target and have a bit left over for an extra pressie or two! I believe you can also top up your savings at the tills if you have a little bit of spare shopping budget at any point.
If you have never heard of wombling then you are missing out on a trick. Quite simply, wombling is making use of things others have left behind. The main two places I like to womble are Tesco and Asda..I have a little wander around the car park and see if there are receipts laying around. In Asda you can check the receipts against the Asda price guarantee online and if they are not at least 10% cheaper on the shop they will give you the difference back in a voucher which I then spend on either stock pile goods that have a long shelf life for Christmas or little stocking filler bits (you have to spend them within a month so couldn't hang onto them for December unfortunately). In Tesco I always keep a look out for receipts with unclaimed Clubcard points on them, you can add 2 at a time to your own card at Customer Services - this is a great way to boost your total for your payout come November.
4. Cashback Apps
I love cashback apps! These are apps that give you money back once you have bought a particular item in store. I tend to stick to the items that are completely free, or that I buy anyway. My favourite cashback apps are Checkout Smart, Shopmium and Click Snap. The process is simple..browse the app, choose your offers, buy the items and submit your receipt to the app once you have it. I have a quick look every day at the offers in case there's anything new and nip out and get it asap (same day if possible as some disappear really quickly). Recently I managed to get £18 of Easter eggs from Topcashback completely free via cashback. I am regularly completing cashback offers and storing the money for later in the year, around October time I will cash out all of my cashback apps and hopefully be able to buy the games console my boys would like this year with it.
5. Buying all year round
As I said earlier I tend to wait until November and then panic that I don't have any presents at all! This year I am trying to spread my buying by picking up bargains as and when I see them. Obviously kids change their specific interests like the wind but the general jist of what they like won't change! Anything pink and sparkly for my girls and anything football/WWE themed will pretty much do my boys for the next few years, so I've been trying to keep my eye open for bits and pieces, come December hopefully I'll have a lovely stockpile!
So there are my 5 (easy-ish) tips for saving for Christmas 2017..do you save for Christmas? Let me know your top tips!