AUGUST has only just begun and Christmas is probably the last thing most people are thinking about.
But if you’re on a budget, it can be a good idea to start planning how you are going to save for the big day.
Julian House explains how to save over £600 by Christmas
We spoke to personal finance expert Julian House, from My Favourite Voucher Codes, on how you can save £662 in just four months before Christmas comes around.
The average Brit spent £446 on Christmas presents and £256 on food during the festive season last year – so it makes sense to spread the cost in the months leading up to the event.
But with inflation expected to hit 11% later this year and the cost of living going up, families will be looking for ways to make their money go further this Christmas.
From switching up your supermarket shop to cancelling subscriptions, Julian has shared five ways to put enough cash aside so your Christmas spend doesn’t wipe out your bank balance.
Cancel subscriptions – save £184
Households are spending an average of £46 a month on subscription boxes, according to Barclaycard Payments.
This includes subscriptions to monthly meal preparation, food delivery and beauty boxes such as HelloFresh and Glossybox.
Cancelling these subscriptions could save you around £184 by the time Christmas comes around.
Julian says people often subscribe to these boxes as a way to save time, but they simply end up paying out extra and might not even be using the products.
Other areas to make subscription savings including cutting gym memberships and services like Netflix and Spotify – check what you’re actually using, and ditch it if you’re not.
Money saving dad Joseph Seager said he saves £1,200 a year by watching old DVDs and exercising for free.
Use vouchers – save £75
One of the best ways to get the most for your money ahead of the festive season is to shop around for voucher code discounts.
According to Julian, a typical household could save around £226 a year using voucher codes.
He added: “From flights to experience days and electronics, there’s a voucher code for almost everything.
“In a time when every penny is being squeezed from every piggyback, the best way to get the most for your money is to shop around for voucher code discounts before you make a purchase.”
HOAR recently spoke to Britain’s coupon kid Jordon Cox who saved a whopping £15,000 a year by hunting down discount codes and money saving vouchers.
Don’t forget to make the most of supermarket loyalty schemes – we put together a guide to all the schemes currently on offer.
Switch up supermarkets – save £333
If you’re not shopping around for your groceries, your shopping list could be hundreds of pounds more every month than it needs to be.
Switching to a cheaper supermarket could help you shave your grocery bill.
Julian says: “Simply switching your supermarket and writing a list can help you save up to £1,000 a year.
“You could also try the downshift challenge – avoiding all the finest labelling and actively seeking out value and own brands.”
The downshift challenge can save between 15 and 30% on the weekly shop.
HOAR recently rounded up the supermarket swaps, including on fizzy drinks and chocolate, that could save you £340 a year.
We also put together a handy guide to the best and worst supermarket hacks on TikTok.
Consolidate your debt – save £42
Debt consolidation is one way to rein in your outgoings and just have one monthly repayment to manage.
It is one way of reducing the amount of loans, credit card or debt payments you are making.
Julian says this could save £42 in four months, largely stemming from large interest payments across various different debts.
But taking on debt to pay off other debt isn’t always the right route for a lot of people, so you need to be careful – seek advice if you’re not sure.
HOAR recently spoke to expert Andy Shaw from debt charity StepChange about the best ways to consolidate your debt.
These include using a low-interest consolidation loan or a 0% balance transfer credit card.
Switch up your broadband provider – save £28
Millions of broadband customers could be paying more than they need to for their connection, and there’s an easy way to cut your costs.
Haggling with your broadband provider is a common tip for anyone hoping to reduce their bill.
Consumer group Which? found that households saved an average of £85 a year by haggling.
Many people dread having to call their supplier and negotiate, but Julian says it’s simply a matter of being prepared.
He added: “Start sleuthing online for similar packages to the one you’re on and compare the costs.
“And list your essential information – how long you’ve been on your current contract, if you use the provider for other household services, and if you’ve had any recorded issues during your contract.
“This is all haggling bread and butter.”
Earlier this year, Which? found that broadband customers who switch away from the “Big Four” providers, which includes BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, can typically save around £190 a year.
TV and broadband customers can save even more – typically over £200.
While this trick only really works if you move from a big company – if this is you, it could save you some serious cash.
Where can I get help with my bills?
If you are struggling with your food bill then there are a number of charities and organisations which may be able to help, on top of the providers that offer their own grants.
Hard-up households can grab free cash towards essential living costs, including a £36 voucher for food items.
The extra support comes as part of the government’s Household Support Fund (HSF) initiative.
The current batch of funding will be available until September 30 – but households are being urged to apply for help as soon as possible.
Money is dished out to local councils, which will decide what sort of help to offer in their area and who is eligible.
To find out what support is on offer in your area, speak directly to your local council, or visit its website for more details.
Even if you’re not eligible for help under the Household Support Fund you may be eligible for cash elsewhere to help with the cost of living.
A number of councils have opened up their applications for a discretionary fund to help those on Universal Credit, Council Tax Support and other means-tested benefits. You could get up to £300.
Millions of pensioners are also set to get an extra £300 later on this year.
Those on Universal Credit and benefits will also get a one-off payment of £650 to help with the cost of living.
If you are worried about the cost of living or debt, then a number of charities may also be able to offer free advice or help:
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
- Step Change – 0800 138 1111
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060