We all know that cutting our occasional spending can reap big dividends in the run-up to Christmas, don’t we? But how many of us actually do something to make sure that we don’t go overdrawn and end up not only overspending but eating into January’s pay-packet? How can we save cash for Christmas when it’s 10 weeks away?
January is a very looooooong month if you get paid earlier in December. Combine a lack of funds with the usual (abortive in my case) attempt to take on ‘Dry January‘ and you have a recipe for full scale New Year misery. Even if you don’t spend your savings on Christmas pressies, having a little New Year fund to brighten the gloomy first weeks of the year is a great idea in my book.
So here are 10 things to start cutting back on now and stash the extra cash in a bank account, savings jar or even an old Quality Street tin. Yes I am that old.
*Coffee To Go
You know this, I know this. By the time you add up the cost of your £3+ coffees you could have saved around £360 (1 coffee x 5 days x roughly 8 working weeks left)
*Magazines & Newspapers
Most of the glossies weigh in at around £4.95 and you can often find most of their content (and more up to date content) on their websites.
The same applies to many newspapers. The Daily Mail website has made the printed edition more or less obsolete I reckon.
*Single rail / bus tickets when you could be buying a weekly or monthly ticket
You can even use your mobile as a bus ticket on some networks. And obviously you are increasing your daily exercise by getting off earlier and walking, aren’t you (cough)?
*Pre-packed sandwiches and lunch dishes
To be honest, so dismal was my last place of work (even the rats were desperately searching for an estate agent) that tottering up to Boots for a Shapers Meal Deal was the highlight of my working day. That said, those costs certainly mount up. At around £3.29, it’s still good value but that’s an extra £16.45 making it far more expensive that a home-made cheese sarnie.
*Premium Branded Goods
The very wise Martin Lewis suggests that you can immediately save money by dropping down a brand level – so move from premium to mid or mid to supermarket’s own. Some things are worth exploring – cereal, milk, bread, jam etc. Some, on the other hand, are worth sticking with if you really can’t face swopping them. My non-negotiables are Nescafe Gold Blend, Yorkshire or Glengettie Tea and Clover or butter. I swear some of the ‘faux’ butter spreads have never been anywhere near a cow.
*Try a Fake-Away
Did you know that the calorie content of a standard portion of fish and chips is around 2000 calories. That’s roughly the day’s entire calorie count for a woman. The husband and I went through a take-away phase one year when we were doing up the house and the kitchen was out of action. By the end of the week we both felt ill – although we did have a huge collection of those handy plastic containers. We were also significantly poorer.
It’s just as easy to make your own fish n’ chip supper at home, or your own pizza, pasta or curry. It just takes a bit of organisation. And, in my case, delegation to the husband.
Mine is not a cocktail lifestyle – and being a complete lightweight I can usually only take one in any case. They seem to be extremely expensive and full of sugar whereas one decent glass of wine should be more satisfying and last longer. Even better if you make that a gin in a long glass of tonic or a white wine or spritzer.
Horrendously expensive, usually unappreciative and with a boredom threshold that makes Keith Lemon seem like a Chess Master, I feel these are often a major drain on the finances.
It doesn’t help when the shops fill up with toys, glitter and sparkle, Disney launches its new Star Wars dress-up and light sabers and rumours of a Harry Potter gift shop in Cardiff begin to circulate. It’s hard to feel Christmassy when you’re holding on to your wallet for dear life.
As parents we have to be strong enough to tell the little darlings that if they want it they must put it on their Xmas list to Santa” and then if there is a vague possibility that they will help lay the table, remember their library book and present themselves for a bath without complaining, the elves may work their magic.
Seriously, pester power can be a very expensive thing at this time of year and if we give in we are just making it harder to, um, help Santa to do his job.
Of course, not only should you be looking for ways to save, it’s a good idea to find ways to make some money on the side.
You may recall me talking about matched betting earlier this year and there are sites where you can find a handy list of all the casino sign up offers available. Whilst I would never recommend betting with your own money, matched betting offers a low, or no risk, method of profiting from the bonuses most sites offer when you sign up with them. Just make sure you do your research.
And, of course, for us compers, December brings those Advent competitions which keep us all glued to our laptops in the hope that those fabulous tech, hamper and jewellery wins will make it a very happy Christmas for all indeed.
Plus, the majority of competitions and giveaways are free to enter (as are mine). And the good thing about comping is that hope costs far less than a pumpkin spice latte.