7 things to do now to cut the cost of Christmas

With Christmas hurtling near, here’s some clever ways to save.

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Whether you like it or not, the shops are already starting to be decked out with Christmas decorations, cards and gifts.

And although it seems far too early, the earlier you think about the big day, the more money you can save yourself later on.

So here are seven things you can do now to cut the cost of the festive season and put some money back in your pocket.

1. Make a list (and check it twice)

First off, draw up a list of who you really need to buy presents for and how much you can realistically afford to spend on each of them.

Be strict with yourself and stick to this budget as closely as possible.

As you do your Christmas shopping, make a note of the gifts you’ve bought and how much you’ve spent, so you know how much you’ve got left in the kitty and don’t overspend.

2. Start Christmas shopping online

Make a start on your Christmas shopping now so that you can spread the cost over the next couple of months.

Shopping online is likely to be the cheapest (and least stressful) option, and starting now means you can keep an eye out for any sales and special offers.

Plus, don’t forget to take advantage of voucher codes to save yourself even more money. Take a look at our vouchers channel for inspiration.

3. Book your festive train ticket

If you’re taking the train to see friends or family over the festive season, now is the time to buy your ticket.

Train tickets are generally released 12 weeks before the date of travel, and this is when you’re most likely to be able to get a cheap advance fare online.

The 12-week mark before Christmas was October 2, so take advantage of lower fares while you can.

For example, booking a return ticket from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly now for December 23 (returning December 27) would cost you £63.20. In comparison, booking on the day would cost you £82.40 – that’s £19.20 more. (Prices correct at time of writing.)

It’s also worth comparing how much travelling by coach or bus would set you back, as this can often work out cheaper than going by train.

4. Make your own gifts and cards

If you’re feeling particularly creative, think about making your own Christmas cards this year or even gift hampers full of home-made chutneys and jam.

These can be made well in advance, will save you money and will also show how thoughtful you are!

5. Hand-deliver your gifts and cards

Everyone loves to catch up for dinner and drinks in the run up to Christmas, so if you’ve already started your Christmas shopping you can personally hand-deliver your gifts and cards to friends and family when you see them, rather than pay out for postage (just make sure they don’t get lost or left behind!).

6. Apply for the right credit card

If you’re likely to be relying on a credit card to help pay for Christmas this year, it makes sense to apply for one now rather than closer to December to ensure you receive it in time.

If you use a 0% purchase card you’ll be able to spread the cost of your spending interest-free over a number of months, making the whole process of Christmas shopping much more manageable.

The Tesco credit card, for example, offers the longest 0% purchase deal at 28 months, giving you more than two years to clear your debt without worrying about interest building up.

Just be aware you will need a good credit rating to qualify (you may be offered 25 months’ or 22 months' interest-free depending on your credit score).

The card has a representative rate of 18.9% APR (variable)*.

If your credit score isn’t as good as it could be, the Capital One Classic Complete credit card offers 0% on purchases for four months and offers an initial credit limit of between £200 and £1,500.

The card will also help you to rebuild your credit score, giving you a greater chance of being accepted for a more competitive card in the future.

The card is exclusive to MoneySuperMarket and is only available until October 19. It has a representative rate of 34.9% APR (variable)**.

It’s also worth checking out our Smart Search tool which will tell you how likely you are to be accepted for a credit card without leaving a mark on your credit file.

It’s free and easy to use – all you need to do is click on the ‘Find a card’ button on our comparison tables and enter a few details.

7. Switch to a better current account

Finally, a number of current accounts are currently offering attractive cash hand-outs if you switch to them, and this could come in handy for your Christmas shopping.

However, if you’re thinking about switching (and don’t be tempted to switch solely for the cash incentive), it’s worth doing this earlier rather than later as you may have to wait a while before you receive your cash.

Many banks will give you your cashback within a month of switching to the account, but in some cases, you may have to wait up to 70 days, so you won't receive your cashback in time for Christmas. But it could still come in useful when it comes to clearing your debt in the New Year.

You can find out more about when you'll receive your cash in this article.

Alternatively, if you’re planning to use your overdraft to see you through this Christmas, you could switch your current account to get a better deal.

The Nationwide FlexDirect account, for example, offers a fee-free overdraft for 12 months.

Try to clear your debt before the 12 months are up as after this you’ll be charged 50p per day on arranged overdrafts over £10 (the first £10 of your overdraft is free).

Overdrafts are subject to status and approval.

* Representative Example: If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable), your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable).

** Representative Example: If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 34.94 p.a. (variable), your representative rate will be 34.9% APR (variable).

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