A to Z of how to save money this Christmas
Chiara Cavaglieri suggests ways of surviving this expensive holiday period
Sunday 20 December 2009
Avoid store cards
Store cards can charge extortionate yearly interest rates of as much as 29.9 per cent – almost twice the rate of a standard card. They may offer enticing initial discounts but there is nearly always a cheaper credit option available. Stores like to push their cards even more at Christmas so keep your guard up.
Be paid to shop
Cashback websites such as Quidco.com are a great way to be rewarded while you shop online. For other spending, the new Express Rewards credit card from American Express offers three points for almost every £1 spent at major UK supermarkets, which can then be redeemed on vouchers or gift cards.
Compare prices online
The internet is the best weapon. You can compare retail prices on everything from car insurance to games consoles. Try the new Mozilla Firefox browser plug-in Invsible- Hand.com. This automatically compares prices while you surf, using a discreet drop-down bar within your browser.
Dine out for less
With countless parties on the horizon, you can save a fortune by booking a restaurant through Toptable.co.uk. You earn points every time you book a meal through the website and gain access to exclusive offers. It’s free to join and once you’ve built up enough points you can use them to treat yourself to a free meal.
So-called invisible presents make the perfect last-minute Christmas gift. At the iTunes store you can buy loved ones music or films and iTunes immediately sends them an email so they can download their gift. Or why not buy them gift vouchers for spa days or off-road driving on sites such as RedLetterDays.co.uk?
Festive food for less
Save a fortune on the Christmas dinner by comparing prices at all the big supermarkets online at MySupermarket.co.uk. Simply fill your virtual trolley with all the items you need and MySupermarket will show you which supermarket offers the best prices.
Waste not, want not. Millions of us recycle unwanted (but appreciated) gifts received at Christmas. If you’re worried about giving the same gift back to the original giver, Recycleagift.com offers cash for new and used films, CDs, games and books.
Have a DIY Christmas
Get crafty and save a bundle. Make your own Christmas gifts such as home-made food goodies and hampers. Websites such as BagNBoxMan.co.uk sell packaging items for a more professional finish and old Christmas cards can be reused to make fantastic tree decorations, Advent calendars or simply some festive bookmarks.
Internet shopping safety
Stay safe online by installing the latest anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software. Look out for a little padlock on the corner of your web browser while you shop – this indicates that the website is secure and your information is safe.
January sale time
With the 2.5 per cent VAT reduction ending in January 2010, many retailers will kick off their Christmas sales early this year, but there should still be plenty of bargains around in the new year. January is the ideal time to pick up cheap Christmas gifts and decorations for next year.
Know your shopping rights
Shops are legally required to take back faulty or damaged goods. They must also be of satisfactory quality, so if you buy something that doesn’t last as long as you might reasonably expect something to last, take it back to the retailer.
Loyalty can pay
Your Tesco Clubcard points are worth four times more when you use them online, instead of in-store.
So for every £2.50 worth of vouchers you can spend £10 worth of deals tokens on anything from fun days out for the family and airline to restaurant bookings.
Make some cash from your mobile
Make way for your new Christmas gifts by selling your old mobile phone. There are lots of recycling services willing to pay as much as £150 for old mobiles. Compare prices on several sites such as Mopay.co.uk, Envirofone.com and Mazumamobile.com to get the most cash for your particular make and model.
Now plan for next year
Kick off your savings plan by setting up a regular savings account to build up a pot for next year’s festivities. The Barclays Monthly Savings account pays an annual rate of 4.25 per cent, fixed for 12 months. You can save up to £250 per month and, unlike many regular savers, you can miss monthly payments without penalty.
Open an ISA
Make the most of your tax-free allowance by opening an Individual Savings Account (ISA). From April you can invest up to £10,200 each tax year, without paying any income tax on any interest. Of this £5,100 can be put in a cash ISA.
Phone calls for less
A quarter of Britons plan to make calls to friends and family living abroad this Christmas, according to Homephone-choices.co.uk. Override providers such as 18185.co.uk offer much cheaper calls by simply dialling a code before the number you are ringing. Also, consider using VoIP services such as Vonage and Skype to make cheap or free phone calls over the internet.
Health benefits aside, quitting the fags will save your wallet too. The average price of 20 cigarettes is an eye-watering £5.57; if you smoke a packet a day you could save yourself more than £2,000 a year by quitting. Your health insurance premiums will drop too.
Rent out a room
If you’ve got the space, make the most of the Rent-a-Room scheme by taking in a lodger. You can earn up to £4,250 a year without paying any tax. Contact your insurers before you take the plunge, as it may affect your home policy.
Save a fortune on postage and send e-cards this year for an eco-friendly, personalised alternative. There are plenty of free e-card websites such as Ecards.co.uk and Virtualgravy.com, but for just £7.25 a year you can send as many animated and musical e-cards from Jacquie-Lawson.com as you like.
Trade old for new
If you’re looking to revamp your wardrobe, set up your own online shop on swapping sites such as FashionSpace.com and Bigwardrobe.com. Then buy, sell and swap your clothes with other members.
Use a credit card for big buys
Remember that if you pay for something on a credit card and it costs between £100 and £30,000, it is covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This means that the credit card issuer is equally liable, so if the retailer goes bust, you can go to the card company to get your money back.
Voucher codes offer extra savings
If you’re shopping online, check to see if there are any discount voucher codes available. MyVoucherCode.co.uk is one of the most popular voucher sites, with nine million unique visitors every month. It offers codes across the retail sector. Simply enter the promotional code at the checkout and the discount is applied.
Winter warmth on a budget
With the cold weather settled in and central heating being turned up, many budgets will be stretched this Christmas. Switching to an online tariff is your best bet. The average annual standard tariff costs £1,232 while the average online tariff costs over £250 less at £960, according to Moneysupermarket.com.
X marks the spot
Always select the Gift Aid option if you’re planning to donate money to charity this Christmas, so that your chosen cause gets an extra 28p for every £1 you give. An estimated £750m of Gift Aid goes unclaimed every year.
Yours for free
Freebie communities such as SnaffleUp.co.uk and Gumtree list a huge range of items that people are willing to give away for free. At this time of year, keep your eye out for people wanting to get rid of their old Christmas trees and decorations. And don’t forget to do your bit and post any of your unwanted items.
Zero per cent purchase cards
These credit cards offer 0 per cent interest on all purchases for a fixed period. Make sure you pay the debt off within the introductory period or you’ll be stung with higher than average interest charges.
Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk
Interest-only mortgages return to give more flexibility to borrowers
Bargain Hunter: Exclusive discount on a SmartGlider - a self-balancing electric scooter
My Tinder date asked for a refund when I declined a second meet up
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
Be warned of the dirty tricks the bailiffs pull
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 5 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Refugees welcome: More than 250,000 sign Independent petition calling for Britain to 'take its fair share'
iJobs Money & Business
£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...
£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...
Day In a Page
This five-bedroom home in Sutton Coldfield is arranged over three floors, with a detached garage to the rear and a driveway at the front of the property.
In an elevated position above the bay, this four-bedroom home offers sea and headland views. There is a decked balcony and sun terrace - plus coastal walks on the doorstep.
With four bedrooms, this spacious maisonette in a mid-terrace period-style house in Holland Road is well-maintained and offers high ceilings and period features.
The terraces of this two-bedroom penthouse apartment offer panoramic views that stretch over fifty miles from the cliffs of Beachy Head.
In the heart of the coastal village of Mumbles and moments from the pier, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is set over three floors and retains many original features.
In a sandbanks location, moments from the beach, this three-bedroom apartment has a large open-plan living area and a south-west facing balcony.
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.