independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Thrifty tips to get you through the festive season

Cutting back on Christmas costs dosen't mean you have to be a Christmas Scrooge - Getty Images/iStockphoto
Cutting back on Christmas costs dosen't mean you have to be a Christmas Scrooge - Getty Images/iStockphoto

Christmas is undoubtedly an expensive time but with some planning and a little ingenuity, you can cut down on some of those costs. Here are some suggestions on how cut down your costs over the festive season, without becoming an Ebenezer Scrooge.

Shop around

With a variety of outlets, both retail and online, it is still possible to pick up some bargains. Whilst there isn’t a lot of wiggle room on the must-have presents, canny shoppers often pick up bargains in January for the next festive season in January. This might be an extreme measure but keeping an eye out for a bargain, and special offers in shops leading up the Christmas, can help you save some money. Don’t forget to get on Ebay and other websites to grab some discounted prices.

Cut down on food costs

It is a perennial problem with people stocking up on way too much food before Christmas. It might look impressive to have a turkey the size of a Shetland pony on your Christmas table, but it can take days to use up that left-over turkey, and ham, with much of it being dumped. Remember a lot of shops reopen on St. Stephen’s Day, or the day after that, so there is no reason to stockpile as if there is an impending nuclear war.

Buy at the last minute

This is a high risk strategy and one which can backfire spectacularly. Those working in retail regale people with tales of frantic men running into a shop late on Christmas eve, and throwing notes at staff as they grab stuffed toys or anything they can lay their hands on. Bargains can be picked up at the last minute, as gifts are marked down late in the the day, but make sure you are are not hunting essential gifts at the last minute and and are instead just picking up some bargain stocking fillers.

Avoid credit card use

A recent survey found that one in four people in Ireland have been saving all year for Christmas spending. If you do have to resort to using your credit card this Christmas, then the best practice is to clear the balance at the end of the month. A loan from your local credit union or bank offers a far better loan rate, if you do have to resort to credit.

Cut down on postal costs

Assess your list and decide what Christmas cards are really necessary – there is a fine line to be thread here in not insulting someone. Also, deliver your own cards to those living nearby, you will have the added benefit of some exercise as well as reducing your stamp costs.

Get crafty

If you are artistic or good at woodwork etc. then a gift made by you may have far longer value to the recipient than a shop bought gift. Knitted cuddly toys, hat scarves, wooden airplanes etc often become treasured mementos in years to come. Obviously you can’t knit those all important electric gadgets, bicycles etc and a home-made version of the must-have ID doll will just not cut the mustard.

Capitalise on bargains and vouchers

There are ample vouchers and promotions being offered at the moment by grocers, including the Aldi vouchers which appeared in the Sunday Independent. Many are offering significant reductions once you spend a certain amount in the store, so why not capitalise on those offers and enjoy some significant savings?

Be an Ebenezer Scrooge

You could just ignore the festive season altogether,  pull the curtains, light some candles for heat and pretend it's not happening. Certainly,  espousing a bah humbug mentality is the only definite way to avoid splashing the cash in some shape or other this Christmas. Don't expect much understanding from your family and friends, though.

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