Money Insider: Spread your spending or cut costs for a happy Christmas spending?

 

With a little over six and a half weeks until Christmas, if you're thinking of taking out a new credit card to ease the festive financial burden, you need to get your skates on.

I'm not advocating that you should go on a shopping binge and then worry about paying for it later, but if funds are tight this year it makes sense to find a cost-effective way to spread the pain over two to three months.

If your credit rating is in good shape then you may want to think about using a new credit card offering interest-free credit on purchases to help you manage the Christmas expenses.

If this is something you think will work for you then you need to get your card application completed in the next few days as it will be between 10 to 14 days before your account is opened and the plastic is in your hands ready to use.

The question is which credit card to sign up for? There are dozens of cards offering interest-free purchases, some, in the case of Halifax, for as long as 17 months.

The last thing you want to be doing is still paying off your Christmas borrowing come summer 2014, but choosing a card that gives you something back for your short-term spending may be worth a look.

The Tesco Clubcard offers 16 months at 0 per cent on purchases and Sainsbury's Bank offers the same for 15 months, but both also offer reward points, so are well worth considering if you do your weekly food shop in one of these supermarkets.

Other cards offering interest-free purchases and rewards are M&S Bank (15 months), John Lewis Partnership Card (six months) and Santander 123 (three months) although the latter does come with a £24 annual fee.

If the thought of spreading the cost of Christmas doesn't appeal to you, it may be worth looking at ideas to try to keep your costs down this year.

One tried and tested money-saving tip is to try to cut back on your food shopping during the first couple of weeks in December by using up what you already have and only buying the absolute essentials.

Sort through your kitchen cupboards and your freezer and make use of some of what you already have; I'm sure you'll find more than a couple of meals already there. Many of us have food buried at the bottom of the freezer that we've long since forgotten about, so now is an ideal time to use it up.

Another way to reduce costs is to agree with friends and relatives that you're going to cut down on presents this year – either by imposing a limit on the amount you'll spend or perhaps agreeing to only buy for the children.

Alternatively, rather than spending money on presents, you could design and send your own vouchers, where you offer to give up your time to baby sit, provide a taxi service, clean the car or even walk the dog. It will cost you nothing but your time and a little creativeness.

If you can't afford it, don't buy on the basis that you don't want to lose face or are trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Christmas is not about expensive presents. It's a rare opportunity to relax and spend some quality time with your friends and family.

So enjoy yourself but don't get into long-term debt – it's really not worth it.

Andrew Hagger is an independent personal finance analyst from www.moneycomms.co.uk

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

    $200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

    Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

    $125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

    Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

    Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

    Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

    Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

    Day In a Page

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick