Money Matters: How to Save Money and Avoid the Debt Trap This Christmas

Many of us feel the pressure to spend too much at Christmas, but this year in the wake of the pandemic, a lot of people will be struggling financially and worrying about how they are going to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas, in spite of it all.

According to national debt advice, over a third of us borrow money to pay for Christmas presents, one in five pay for Christmas food with some sort of credit, and one in twenty people skip paying a bill because their money just won’t stretch.

After the strange and stressful year we’ve all had, it makes sense that you want to celebrate and enjoy it, but you don’t have to get into debt to do it.

Here are some money saving tips and ideas from the amazing Jessica at JP Savings. If you haven’t already, check out her Facebook page which is packed full of money saving tips, deals, and discounts.

Don’t get into debt this Christmas unnecessarily!

  1. Opt out of secret Santas. You don’t need to give a reason why, but the year we’ve had should be a good enough excuse! The £5/£10 or whatever you would usually spend is usually spent on something gimmicky that will end up in a drawer somewhere collecting dust.  But we’re not The Grinch; If you really do want to do secret Santa, this link is really good at setting it up for you!

  • Print off a homemade voucher for the recipient! Think of it as a kind of IOU. You might choose to take a child to a zoo or bowling etc (when Boris allows us!). Print something off saying we are going to “insert place” OR “place of your choice”. That way you can pay after Christmas, when you are able to attend and the child has something to look forward to post Christmas, it’s a win-win!

This can be done for adults too. Print a voucher saying “we are having a spa day when Boris allows us!”.

  • Your friends and family love you. They will understand if you simply can’t afford to buy presents this year, especially when gift buying is extended to cousins, second cousins, your uncle’s cat’s cousins and so on!
  • Kids don’t care if their present is from Poundland or Harrods - go to Poundland (or similar shops) for stocking fillers! Poundtoy is also a good one – you can get free delivery on orders over £25 and I also did some digging around and found some discount codes!
  • Don’t wander around town aimlessly buying presents on Christmas Eve!  Write a list of who you need to buy for now, then when you see discounted items, look through your list to see who you could give it to, OR write ideas next to their names and keep an eye out to see if these items get reduced!

Alternatively, A great app for this is Manage Christmas.  It allows you to budget for Christmas for each person you buy for; you just enter what you’ve bought and how much you paid. It also lets you enter ideas for each person which you tick off as you buy! This is a great app to help you avoid overspending.

  1. Shop online! Not only can you find voucher codes online, but you can also get cashback, simply by clicking a link first! A great cashback site is Quidco. If you use this link to sign up, you get £5 cashback on your first purchase
  • Give sentimental or personalised gifts. They can mean so much more, as more thought has gone into it and they can also be very cheap (maybe for the second cousin you still want to buy for)!

What about a framed photo for the grandparents, a photo puzzle for your sister, or a personalised calendar for your cousins? Sign up to FreePrints via the app and use invite code jpiff8 to get extra free prints each month! They also offer photo mugs, canvases, cards, and more, but do shop around first. There’s always a deal to be had! 

  1. Check that a deal really is the cheapest! Not only should you shop around different stores, but you can also check the price history of a product using or (amazon only)!
  • Got a big family? Why not all chip in for that present for nan, grandpa, mum, or dad? Instead of spending money individually to get smaller presents, why not all chip in for something memorable like a new TV, a sentimental ring, or a weekend trip away?- anything you know they’ve been talking about for ages!
  • Been with your partner for a while? You don’t need to buy their family separate presents anymore! Get them to buy the present and put both your names on!
  • Kids don’t mind, and probably won’t even be able to tell if a present is second-hand! For example, books. Why buy a brand- new book for a child when you can probably buy a whole collection for the same price? I bought a whole David Walliams collection second-hand.  You can also get some really good deals on second-hand clothes, toys, Lego, pretty much anything! 

The FIFA 20 game will probably be a popular item on sale at the moment since FIFA 21 is now out; younger children won’t care which year or version they get!

  • Bake a present! Food is the way to a lot of people’s hearts, why not bake a cake or make a flapjack, cookies, or brownies this year and gift it to someone you care about? Your efforts will not go unnoticed!
  1. Spend those loyalty points! I personally save all of mine all year to help with the Christmas shop! And I’m not just talking the food shop. Tesco Clubcard, for example, offers triple points on so many different experiences (such as the days out mentioned in point 2). I also save nectar and Boots points to name just a few, which can help take the pressure off of wondering where I’m going to find the money!
  • Check eBay, Facebook marketplace, and Gumtree for whatever is on your list before you search a shop. It might be that someone had it as an unwanted present last year. For example, I just typed “unwanted gift” in marketplace and found a brand new Bose speaker £50 cheaper than the shop price! Another example, I found a brand-new Cranium board game for just £5, it’s £20 in the shops!
  • If in doubt - just ask me! Get in touch with me via my Facebook page at JP Savings. I’m always happy to help you find a gift, holiday, experience, or whatever it is you want to gift for Christmas this year! I can’t guarantee that I’ll find the cheapest thing ever, but I can guarantee that I’ll spend hours trying to!
  • I know a lot of people like to gift perfumes or aftershaves at Christmas. I’ve recently discovered FM perfumes. They’re not replicas but they’re the exact same scent, just not in the same packaging and they don’t have the same name. With scents, you only usually pay for the brand rather than the actual perfume or aftershave anyway. That means I can get my favourite perfume Black Opium SO much cheaper! 
  • Shop local. This year it’s SO important to support small businesses, for obvious reasons! Imagine how special it makes people feel when you buy from their business. You are supporting their families and their dream, and buying from them this Christmas might make the difference between them being here next year or not.

We are looking for help from residents to complete a survey about money. We know it's a delicate subject, but after this year and with Christmas on the horizon, times are tough for many people.

The reason we'd love you to get involved is that we want to try and understand if our services are supporting people in the way they need right now.

You can have your say here:

Thank you!

We are hoping to hold our Food Waste Project sessions in the Christmas week and just after for anyone who needs some extra bits and of course, some Christmas goodies. Keep an eye out for announcements on our Facebook page!