For most of us, October feels too early to start thinking about our holiday shopping, but starting now could save you a fortune. Here are six ways to cut the cost of Christmas shopping.
- Make a list and check it twice
It’s way too easy to go overboard with Christmas shopping and a ‘master present list’ is a holiday gift-giver’s best friend. Use a budget worksheet to set a limit and to calculate how much to spend on everyone on your list.
Go one step further and download an app for your smartphone to keep your list organized. Not only is portable, it’s password protected.
Worth a look are No More Socks and Manage Christmas. Both apps are free and designed for your iPhone and iPad.
- Buy early online
Last year, the majority of British consumers did at least half of our Christmas shopping online, according to figures from Econsultancy.
So why not make the most of flash-sale websites, such as Zulilly.com, Achica.com and Brandalley.co.uk, and save up to 80pc off on brand names such as Michael Kors, Pandora and RayBan. Sales last a limited time and are available to members only – but it costs nothing to join. Delivery can take up to four weeks, but many shoppers will think the low prices are worth the wait – so start shopping now.
- It makes scents to head to the supermarket
If you are after your mother’s favourite fragrance for her gift this year, head to your local supermarket where you can find perfume for a fraction of the high street price.
For instance, DKNY Be Delicious Eau de Parfum (30ml) is currently on sale at Boots and Superdrug for £34.99 and £34 respectively, but head over to Tesco and Asda and you can find it for just £22.
- Have a cashback Christmas
Sign up for a cashback and get paid a percentage of the value of your shopping. Websites, such as Quidco.com and Topcashback.com, list retailers that pay commission when shoppers click through to them. In turn, the website rebates some commission to the consumer. For instance, this week you can earn 6pc when you shop at Toys R Us or Debenhams at Quidco.com or 4.2pc cashback from Next via Topcashback.com.
Further add to your savings and pay on plastic. As two out of three credit- card holders pay off their monthly bills in full. If this sounds like you, then a cashback credit card will cut the cost of your holiday shopping. Check out the Santander 123 cashback credit card, where you can earn 1pc cashback when you shop at supermarkets, 2pc on department-store spending and 3pc on petrol, although this is capped at £9 a month. Cashback is paid monthly, but be aware that this card comes with an annual fee of £24. However, if you have, or if you open any 123 account with the banking giant you will be refunded the first year’s annual fee when you set up a direct debit to pay your card within 30 days of opening (offer valid until 31 December 2014).
Further add to your savings and sign up via Topcashback.co.uk and be paid £13.12 or via Quidco.com to earn £12.50 cashback.
Alternatively, Tesco’s Clubcard credit card allows you to collect one point for every £4 you spend anywhere or an additional two points for every £1 while if you use it at Tesco, either in store, online or at the petrol station. At the end of each quarter, you will receive a Clubcard voucher.
- Cash in on your loyalty
If you regularly use one supermarket, you probably already have a loyalty card that gives you points to spend on your purchases. If you spend these points on groceries, stop now as there are ways to get more from your points.
Tesco’s Clubcard points, for instance, are worth three to four times more if you use them to get Clubcard Deals (tesco.com/clubcard/deals), which could be perfect for Christmas presents.
For instance, simply exchange £13 in Clubcard vouchers and you’ll receive an Senior Annual Membership with English Heritage for your mother in law or an annual subscription to National Geographic Kids Magazine for your nephew.
Don’t forget to check if you can Reclaim Tesco Vouchers online by visiting your Clubcard account, click on ‘my vouchers’ on the left-hand side and you should see a table listing the vouchers you still have to spend.
- Look to online outlets for deals
Many drive miles to outlet villages to snap up end-of-line bargains, but now you can get the best price on your purchases without leaving the comfort of your home.
Many high street retailers try to shift their end-of-the-line stock, ex-display items or returns by slashing the prices and selling through their online outlet stores either via eBay or special websites – and if you know where to look you can save a fortune – big names include Links of London (stores.ebay.co.uk/Links-of-London-Outlet), M&S (outlet.marksandspencer.com) and Very (stores.ebay.co.uk/veryclearance).
What are your tips for cutting those cost of Christmas shopping?