December is just days away and the countdown to Christmas 2014 is in full swing. Every shop has its displays out and today has seen unprecedented adoption of the US 'Black Friday' concept in the UK.
Christmas may seem like a massive expense, but there are way to get your loved ones Christmas presents and stick within a budget. If you're a savvy shopper and prepared to shop around, you can grab bargains. Here's our tips for making the most of your money this festive season....
Start building up those extra pennies
Sign up for supermarket savings schemes.
Sell books, CDs or DVDs on trade-in sites.
Start hoarding store reward points early.
Head down to a car boot sale to to sell any unwanted possessions and festive treats like mince pies, cakes and homemade decorations.
Draw up a spending plan
As with any financial goal, preparing for Christmas starts with budgeting and savvy spending. Here's how to get organised and avoid last minute impulse shopping:
Start by listing all your individual expenses, including presents, food and travel, and estimate a rough cost by looking up prices online.
Create a budget spreadsheet so you can see what you can afford and how much money you'll be left with. Based on your incomings and outgoings.
Check on your budget each week or so over the next couple of months to make sure you're on track.
Christmas on a budget doesn't have to mean cutting back on luxuries; it just means finding places to save as you spend. Putting these money saving tips into practice will make it much easier to stick to your budget:
Decide on your presents and festive menus early – this reduces the chance of costly panic buys.
Use comparison sites to find the best deals on your shopping.
Search for voucher codes before submitting online orders.
Buy own-brand products where possible and loose veg (it's cheaper).
Team up with neighbours to buy from wholesalers to save on delivery costs.
There are lots of ways to guarantee smiles on Christmas morning without even having to step inside a shop – give a few of these homemade festive fixes a go:
Make your own gift labels from old Christmas cards.
Try creating personalised gifts, from festive fudge to upcycled furnishings.
Make decorations from holly and pine cones; it's more economical – and fun – than buying them ready-made.
Make the goodies last longer
Long after the celebrations are over, your Christmas goodies can become the gifts that keep on giving, making your money go further.
Save old wrapping paper, and do try to reuse it next year.
Make the most of leftover meat by making soups, stews and curries.
When it's time to take the tree down, use it for a festive bonfire.
If you're gearing up for Christmas you might be surprised how much you can save by shopping around, remember - get creative, shop smarter and make the goodies last longer.