Whether you like it or not, the shops are now full of Christmas decorations, cards and gifts.
And although it might still seem 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.
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.
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 2 October, so take advantage of lower fares while you can.
For example, booking a return ticket from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly now for 22 December (returning 27 December) would cost you £67.45. In comparison, booking on the day would cost you £86.90 – that’s £19.45 more. (Prices correct at time of writing.)
If you’re planning to travel back in the New Year, it’s definitely worth booking your tickets before the expected 3.5% fare increase kicks in.
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, make sure you use the right one.
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.
Sainsbury’s Bank, for example, offers the longest 0% purchase deal at 29 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 26 months’ or 23 months' interest-free depending on your credit score) and once the interest-free deal ends you’ll pay 20.95% APR (variable). The card has a representative rate of 20.9% APR (variable)*.
The Sainsbury’s card also allows you to earn two Nectar points for every £1 you spend on Sainsbury’s shopping and fuel, plus one Nectar point per £5 spent elsewhere. You can also earn up to 7,500 bonus points as you’ll receive 750 points each time you spend £35 or more at Sainsbury’s, up to 10 times in the first two months. T&Cs apply.
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.
Be aware that once those four months are up you’ll pay 34.94% APR (variable) so make sure you clear your balance before then.
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 has a representative rate of 34.9% APR (variable)**.
It’s also worth checking out our Eligibility Checker 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.
Find out more about the best Christmas credit cards to use in our article.
7. Switch to a better current account
Finally, 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).
All credit cards and overdrafts are subject to status and terms and conditions. Over 18s, UK residents only. Terms and conditions apply. See MoneySuperMarket.com for further information.
* Representative Example: If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 20.95% p.a. (variable), your representative rate will be 20.9% 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).
***Representative Example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 the amount you will be charged is 50p per day (variable).