I know we say it every year, but it’s barely believable that Christmas is less than three weeks away. It’s unfathomable as to where the time goes, and this year feels like it’s just motored along. Yet we’re firmly within the grips of the month of advent now, and it’s a pretty exciting time. Exciting, and expensive, I suppose.
Things like money certainly aren’t the be all and end all, and don’t diminish the warm, fuzzy glow we all get with the excitement in the air, lights everywhere and the sense of holidays, and fun and mirth that will be had with friends and family. But there’s no getting away from the fact that with all the festivities, social fun and, of course, present shopping, December can be a month where finances are tight.
Luckily, there are easy ways to give yourself a boost in this regard. Here are a few things you can do to give the coffers a helping hand…
1. Save a bucket load on energy
It’s a bit farcical really. The oil price plummeted last year, but electricity and gas prices barely dropped a penny. Now that oil has moved upwards again, companies are more than happy to push up their prices, with those on standard variable tariffs most likely to get stung. The time to switch is now if that applies to you, and it could mean you save as much as £300 a year. And, to make it more enticing, there’s barely any hassle involved for you – it’s all down to the companies themselves to facilitate the change for you.
2. Cashback credit cards
With so many credit card platforms out there gunning for your business, it’s no wonder they have such generous cashback offers at the moment. Some offer cashback of up to 5 per cent on all credit card spend (albeit for a limited period of time). You can find a list of the best deals here. Just make sure to get this right: pay off your balance in full each month! Otherwise the high rates of interest will eat into your rewards.
3. Switch banks and get paid!
As with energy providers, switching current accounts is as easy as 1, 2, 3. But in this case, you actually get paid for doing it. And handsomely, too. It’s competitive out there, with M&S, TSB, First Direct and Halifax all offering £100 for signing up with them, albeit with a few Ts & Cs relating to minimum monthly deposits, and a couple of other basic footnotes. Perhaps the most appealing of the bunch is the Halifax Reward Current Account, which offers an additional £5 a month as a bolt-on bonus (although this drops to £3 a month from February).
4. Don’t let your money sit idle
When considering which bank to switch to, don’t only think about the initial perks. Look at what rate of interest you’ll be earning as well. Accounts like the Santander 123 account offer decent returns of 1.5 per cent, or if you’re willing to take on slightly more risk, peer-to-peer lending can earn you returns of up to 5 per cent, and the launch of a new ISA will make it even more attractive. The bottom line is that the effort is in working for your money. So when you actually have some money to set aside, you want to make sure that it works for you.
5. Flog old goods
What better time to do an inventory of all your possessions than Christmas? Be ruthless: decide what you realistically need, and identify the things you don’t which may have some re-sale value. Whether it’s DVD players, books, or even jewellery, there are plenty of sites where you can flog such items and earn decent amounts of cash.
6. Sell on your wedding dress
This one will not appeal to everyone, and obviously a wedding dress carries sentimental value. But if your practical mind outweighs such sentimentality, then this could fetch you north of £500. Second-hand dresses are becoming more and more popular as the costs of weddings continue to spiral. This puts you in the box seat, and if you’re up for giving it a good clean and boxing it up, you can make a good little bung by selling it off sites like Preloved, while The Dressmarket is a niche site whereby you can put up an ad for free.
If you’re fancying more money saving tips, check out today’s Vlogmas, tips to save money at Christmas.