Christmas can be a tough time for lots of reasons. The issue of finances, trying to keep up with the expectations and demands of family and loved ones, is without doubt the biggest weight on people’s minds.
There are so many presents to buy, not to mention the various accompaniments associated with the festive season. The last thing you’ll want to do, as host of Christmas dinner, is spend a fortune on food and drink for everyone else!
Andy Barr, co-founder of online price tracking website www.alertr.co.uk, gives his top tips on ways to save you money on the Christmas shop this year.
Ask everyone to chip in
Why have all the pressure of not only buying, but also cooking for everyone on Christmas Day, when they can all chip in? It’s a great way to take some of the stress – and associated costs – away from you.
Ask each family member or friend joining you around the festive period to cook and bring a dish each to share. They can also bring their own alcohol if they are partial to a particular tipple.
Another option could be to simply split the full cost of what you spend between all the people coming, so it’s fairer for everyone. Not only take a bit of pressure off you on the big day, but it will also keep your bank balance afloat through to the New Year.
Check what you might already have in the cupboard
A lot of people will write a list of things to buy without even checking their cupboards. Write your list first, then have a dig through your kitchen to see if there are any hidden gems at the back of the freezer that can be salvaged from last year, or even the year before!
Obviously check that its use-by date isn’t 1998 – but if you already have something that’s still good to eat, you’ll be able to save those pennies.
Write a list and stick to it
It’s hard not to go overboard on the treats when it comes to the big Christmas shop. The best thing you can do for your bank balance is to write a detailed, organised list before going shopping. Know how much of each thing you need and stick to it.
Walking around a supermarket without a plan will tempt you to over-cater and treat your guests to a range of treats they don’t need, and you can’t afford!
Chances are that any impulse food purchases will still be sitting there come January as you prepare to start your January diet. Or worse still, the food may go off before you’ve even had chance to enjoy it!
Don’t be tempted by unnecessary deals
When walking through those shopping aisles, you can easily go off on a tangent when it comes to those enticing deals.
In the long run, these can leave you spending more money on products you really don’t need. You may feel you are getting a good deal on the “buy two, get the third free” offer but do you really need three?
Deals are good, but only go for ones that suit you, which won’t leave you unexpectedly spending more money than you planned.
Track food items across retailers
Using online price tracking websites like ours can help you to see if you are getting the best deal possible for your desired Christmas purchases. Here at Alertr, you can track as many items as you’d like across more than 250 retailers, and you can do exactly the same for food produce across the UK’s biggest supermarkets.
The local shop you typically frequent might not be the cheapest when it comes to your Christmas needs, so it’s always best to double check and save yourself those extra pennies ahead of the big day.
Use discount codes to save
Most supermarkets these days have reward cards with points you can accumulate in exchange for vouchers or in-store cashback. In the coming weeks, be sure to build your points up with everyday shopping and petrol purchases, then use them for your big Christmas shop.
Any vouchers and coupons will help keep the cost down, and the final amount payable won’t be as damaging to your bank account in the long run.
Buy in bulk – freeze fresh produce
During your current weekly shops, try to think ahead. Purchase the non-perishable items you might need for Christmas Day ahead of time, to spread the cost and hassle of getting everything last-minute.
This is where certain deals might come in handy. Any tinned products can be saved, and you can also freeze anything fresh then defrost on Christmas Eve.
Doing this might also reduce the stress of rushing around in the week leading up to Christmas. That’s when products sell quickly and many people are in a rush to panic-buy.
Buy own brands
You can save a lot of money by simply buying own-brand products.
When it comes to well-known branded products that are associated with a named brand, you are paying for just that – the name. Many say they can taste the difference between luxury mince pies and the supermarket versions. But I guarantee that if you didn’t tell them, they wouldn’t notice the difference once they’ve been arranged nicely and dusted with icing sugar.
You can get many own brand products for under £1 so you can afford to get more than one. Then you can also spend that bit extra on other things you wouldn’t have been able to before. You’ll be surprised how much you can save with simple changes like this at Christmas.
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