There’s now less than 100 days till Christmas, but while it’s way too early to celebrate, our Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis says prepare now and you can save £100s.
Martin's top tips
Warning: Christmas is due on 25 December
Surprised? Unlikely. So why are so many skint in January as if it crept up on them? A typical family's Christmas spending is £600 - too much for December's income alone. So work out your likely spend and put a quarter aside this month, a quarter in October and a quarter in November. If that's too much, cut your cloth accordingly.
Magic numbers to boost your Christmas coffers
It might not sound a lot, but small sacrifices can make a big difference.
There are three magic numbers right now: 98, 70, and 14. The first is the number of days (including today) left till Christmas Day, the last the number of weeks left – and the middle one, well, let me give you an example with that.
If you currently buy a can of cola and a packet of crisps every WORKING day, costing £2.50 in total, but you decided to stop now, you’d save £175 (2.50 x 70) by Christmas. It could be anything you stop buying – from a daily coffee or cigarettes, to a weekly magazine.
I’m not saying you should give it up, but make an active choice – would you prefer the cash at Christmas? Or the daily treat?
Bag 5% off ALL Christmas shopping
Capital One's Aspire World credit card pays a big 5% cashback (maximum £100) on all spending in the first 99 days (up to 1.25% after). Apply now to use in the Christmas spending period. But remember to always set up a monthly direct debit to fully repay to avoid the 19.9% representative APR.
If you’ve a poor credit score, you can get 3% cashback using the Aqua Reward card, which is designed as a credit-rebuild card. It pays 3% cashback (maximum £100/year) on all spending. It even accepts some with older CCJs or defaults, though ALWAYS fully repay, or it's a huge 34.9% representative APR.
Got it and don't need it? Flog it
Many old items can be worth serious cash, so if you don’t need them, sell them to make some extra Christmas cash. Have a look on eBay to see if any of your bits will be suitable for sale. There are also lots of recycling sites that will pay you for old mobiles and gadgets – just make sure you do your research first to find the one that’ll give you the most.
Pounce on deals, then pop 'em in your Christmas cupboard
If you're buying gifts, put a 'Christmas cupboard' aside, create your list, and be prepared to pounce when discount vouchers or bargains appear. Always do a price comparison first to make sure you can’t get the item cheaper elsewhere – there are online tools that’ll instantly do this for you.
If you borrow, ensure it's 0%
Don’t borrow – it’s far better to budget. That said, no matter what I say, some'll borrow. If you do, at least make sure you do it at 0%. The current longest 0% spending credit card for new cardholders is Tesco’s 16 month 0% card. Yet plan repayments, ideally to clear it before next Christmas; definitely before the 0% ends as it jumps to 16.9% representative APR.