Here’s how you can enjoy Christmas without breaking the bank

One of the UK’s leading money-saving experts has revealed her top tips for slashing the cost of Christmas – ditch the turkey, make your own gifts and use loyalty points when shopping.

Other top hacks from Makala Green include looking in charity shops for hidden gems, checking cupboards for existing stock, and sticking to budgets and shopping lists.

The award-winning chartered financial expert, who has appeared on This Morning, said it’s perfectly fine to prioritise who you want to buy gifts for.

Influencer Makala teamed up with rewards club Virgin Red, which gives its members points to put towards gifts, gigs, flights, fashion and more, to share her wisdom with 100 days to go until Christmas.

Makala, who has more than 20,000 followers on Instagram, said: “Forewarned is forearmed, so this year I am making it my mission to help families be better informed on how to save at Christmas.

“Whether that’s getting the kids involved in making their own decorations or spending all the loyalty points you can earn within the next 100 days on Christmas gifts and festive travel, there’s so many ways to make your money work harder in the run up to Christmas.

“It’s been a year with lots of price hikes from energy to food and fuel, which has squeezed many household budgets and savings, meaning there will be more cash-strapped people this Christmas due to the cost-of-living crisis.”

It comes as a poll of 2,000 adults who celebrate Yuletide, commissioned by Virgin Red, found the average amount they spend on gifts and celebrations over Christmas adds up to £453.53.

However, amid the cost-of-living crisis, adults were looking to reduce their budget by an average of 24 per cent this year.

A whopping 79 per cent of people were using loyalty programme points to reduce their outgoings when it comes to their daily shop, earning points on their spending.

Almost half (44 per cent) were planning to use loyalty points to buy gifts this festive period, while 36 per cent were looking to use loyalty point to get gifts at a cheaper price.

However, 38 per cent said they were saving up their points to put towards their Christmas shop, with 21 per cent revealing by using a loyalty scheme they had saved up to £100.

Food and drink for Christmas meals (67 per cent), gifts (54 per cent) and decorations (17 per cent) were other areas people planned to use their points.

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

While 54 per cent of those polled by Virgin Red typically planned for Christmas a month or two before the big day, 16 per cent of savvy savers get cracking in September.

Among the main benefits of planning early is it gives you more time to find a bargain (44 per cent), can budget better (44 per cent) and it avoids a last-minute rush (40 per cent).

Andrea Burchett, of Virgin Red, which is offering members 10 times the usual number of points when shopping with Marks & Spencer until 21 September and has a flash sale on buying points until 18 September, said: “The excitement of bagging a bargain is heightened at Christmas.

“With these top tips and utilising lesser-known hacks like saving on travel and experiences, families can make the most of every pound spent with Virgin Red.”

Makala Green added: “Christmas comes around the same day each year but can still bend your budget if you haven’t prepared.

“Give yourself plenty of time by shopping early to escape the last-minute rush and impulse purchases.

“I’m here to share money-saving tips on savvy spending and cutting costs this Christmas without sacrificing your festive cheer.”

Top 10 tips to help your money go further this Christmas:

  1. Prioritise who you want to buy gifts for and set a limit on gifts and spending. Separate your Christmas savings to prevent overspending. You can save money by limiting the amount you want to spend on each person rather than one overall limit for gifts. For example, you may set a higher budget for your immediate family than distant relatives or friends. Likewise, you may only buy gifts for your immediate family, and that’s OK!
  1. Take advantage of loyalty points and cash-back cards to cut costs. Almost half (44 per cent) of Brits found using loyalty points an effective money-saving tip at Christmas.
  1. Compare prices online and shop around before buying to get the best deals.
  1. Plan a Christmas based on what you can afford instead of clinging to old Christmas traditions. A cheerful Christmas doesn’t have to mean spending lots of cash.
  1. Get creative with gifting. Check out cheaper charity gifts, make your own or opt for an experience in the new year.
  1. Give yourself plenty of time by shopping early to escape the last-minute rush and impulse purchases. There have been times when I have overspent at Christmas with little to show for it because I left it to the last minute and got flustered with the flock of other shoppers.
  1. Save early each month to reduce the pressure and ditch debt. Setting aside a comfortable amount each month towards a Christmas fund, ideally starting in January, is more useful. If you set aside £50 a month, that will give you a lump sum of £600 for Christmas in 12 months.
  1. Ditch the turkey and opt for an alternative, such as chicken, or fetch a frozen turkey to cut costs.
  1. Check your cupboards before shopping to avoid spending money you don’t need to. There have been many times I have brought gravy and other store cupboard essentials only to find I had them at home. Save yourself the money and hassle with a quick spot check before you hit the shops.

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