Can you believe it? The most wonderful time of the year is here again...
There’s no denying December has a magic about it, lights everywhere, decorations in all the shops and social activities in full swing!
December also brings, with the festivity, the financial squeeze. We tend to get paid early, have higher expenses for the month and then unfortunately face a longer wait until January’s pay day. We do it every year, and every year we wonder how on earth we managed it the year before?
Here at Cushon we are all about saving, but we’re also all about Christmas. For this month we’ve come up with 12 saving tips to consider which may ease the financial pinch we know is coming…1. Own Brands: Our Recommendations
It’s Christmas, which means it’s time for the most expensive food shop of the year. There is no denying that you often pay for the brand names. But we all know this, right? The question is… what do we swap for what?
Team Cushon have come up with some products that we can vouch for:
The Sainsbury’s Irish Cream Liqueur is a great Bailey’s substitute
Poundland’s ‘Twin Peak’ bars are almost Toblerone, but with 20% more chocolate
Buy Christmas cards from charity shops instead of retailers
Lidl have dark chocolate digestives which have – we quote – “a thicker and more satisfying layer than the real thing”
Sainsbury’s Crémant provides a good alternative to champagne
Iceland mince pies won a mince pie blind tasting, who knew!
Aldi Alperini, “a bit sweeter and almost half the price”
Most of us have a draw or box somewhere in the house full of gift bags, ribbons and decorations we’ve either rescued from gifts to us, or not used from previous years. Before you go out and buy more, find that stash and vow to clear it. You’re saving money, reducing single use plastics and you’re freeing up space!3. Get some credit this Christmas
We can’t tell you how to make the family appreciate the four hours of beautiful wrapping you’ll do, but we can tell you that credit cards can be useful at Christmas.
If you’re buying a present worth over £100, consider using a credit card. This means you are covered by Section 75 law, and if you even partly pay for something costing between £100 and £30,000, the card company is jointly liable for the whole amount.
But remember only use your credit card if you know you can easily pay back the balance. By all means, take advantage of the additional protection, but don’t use your credit card to buy things you can’t really afford, you’ll regret it in the new year.
4. Budgets & Baubles
We’re not talking about a full time consuming budget here, instead look at your balance and allocate an allowance to each Christmas activity. Good categories to think of are:
Christmas Food Shop | Presents | Social activities
How much can you reasonably give to each this year, but remain financially in control?5. Parcels & Pots
Having a budget is one thing, delivering it is another. Many bank account apps allow you to create pots – with names – where you can put money and give it a specific purpose, similar to the way you can with Cushon ISAs. These are great for splitting up your money into categories, giving yourself a budget per pot and staying on track it with ease.6. Eco-friendly econimising
Christmas brings a slightly less shiny and exciting angle when it comes to the planet. Biffa (the waste management company) suggests that more than 100 million bags of rubbish are sent to landfill each Christmas.
Keep your Christmas decorations and re-use them next year. If you think they’re broken, they may not be – often bulbs just need replacing.
Brits will also bin what equates to 108 million rolls of wrapping paper. Check if you can save any paper to reuse next year. Also check that the paper you’re buying is recyclable! This is an easy switch to make with a big potential impact.
It’s so easy to get sucked into the ‘3 for 2’ or ‘Spend £X to get a free gift bag worth £X’. Sometimes these are great as you can cover off more presents for less, but sometimes you lose track, and it leads to overspending. Remember, that is the aim of those deals… to keep you spending. Which brings us nicely onto…8. Lists - The nice kind
Lists are the perfect way to stay in control this Christmas. List out what you need for food, present ideas, and most importantly… keep a list of what you’ve already bought!9. Outtings & Outfits
Why are we obsessed with getting a new outfit for Christmas Do’s and Christmas day? Fast fashion is both terrible for the planet and our bank balances. Challenge yourself to not buy any new clothes for events in December, swap with friends or re-purpose the ones you’ve already got - easy savings and environmentally friendly!10. Strictly sales
Boxing day and January sales are fairly chaotic, but at least these days you can do them from the comfort of your sofa in a onesie.
We encourage you to re-read Tips 4 & 5 at this point, when shopping in sales you are in dangerous waters when it comes to spending. Make a list and stay focused! Be aware of returns policies too, allowing for a change of mind and reducing risk of impulse buying.11. Junior ISA - Little commitments, Big difference
This product doesn’t get the airtime it needs. You can set one up for the kids, pop £10 a month in it or a lump sum as part of their present each year and when it comes to their 18th birthday, you’ll have a present that they’ll be jumping for joy over. Book a 15 minute 1-to-1 with Cushon here if it sounds of interest to you.
12. Freeze that food
The nightmare before Christmas is thinking you’ll not have enough food, and the nightmare after Christmas is trying to work out what to do with all the leftovers. There’s only so many soups and turkey curries the kids will eat.
Food waste at Christmas is a huge issue, and it really doesn’t need to be. Freeze it! Make it into something, batch it up and whack it in the freezer. Great for the getting through January, the bank balance and great for the planet.