Saturday, 11 November 2017

50 Money Saving Christmas Shopping Tips

With just over six weeks to go until Christmas Day, I'm sure many of us have started our Christmas shopping already, or at least started thinking about it. If you haven't, it's never too early to start.

I know Christmas shopping can be an incredibly stressful task, especially if money is tight and you're worrying about how to make the pennies stretch as far as possible, so I wanted to share some of my money-saving tips to help make shopping for presents this Christmas that little bit easier. I've put together a list of fifty of my money-saving Christmas shopping tips and some other helpful shopping advice, to help take the pressure off, and get you through your Christmas shopping without a breaking a sweat. I hope you find them helpful.

Here are my fifty Christmas shopping tips...

1. Set a budget for each person and stick to it.

2. Don't spend more than you can afford; your loved ones won't want you to go in to debt just to give them a Christmas present. Remember: Christmas is only one day of the year.

3. Start Christmas shopping as early in the year as you can to spread the cost. A present here, a present there, and you'll barely notice a dent in your finances, and come December you'll have more money left in your purse for enjoying the festivities or shopping the sales.

4. Begin Christmas shopping as early in the year as you can for the best selection of presents to choose from. If you wait until the last minute to shop, all of the best gifts will be gone, and you could miss out on this year's must have gifts.

5. Shop around for the best price. The price for the exact same product can vary from store to store, so always do a search for the cheapest price before purchasing.

6. Try to do as much of your Christmas shopping during sale time as you can. Whether you take advantage of sales throughout the year, Black Friday, or the pre-Christmas sales, it could potentially save you a small fortune. You'll usually find the best deals and discounts during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales which immediately follow American Thanksgiving at the end of November, so be sure to check them out if you want to grab a few bargains and save yourself a few pounds.

7. Shop in outlet shops to find a bargain, or to afford something higher-quality for your money. You could be able to afford something that was originally out of your budget, and even treat your loved ones to a designer gift. I recommend Bicester Village in Bicester, Oxfordshire, and Gunwharf Quays outlet village in Portsmouth.

8. Don't be afraid to shop in pound shops / dollar stores for little presents for hampers, gift baskets, and stockings. You can find some real gems amongst all that tat for less than the price of a coffee.

9. Use auction sites like eBay to bag a bargain. You can find brand new items for less than they cost on the high street, and the perfect second hand gifts for your friends and family's varied interests.

10. Don't be afraid to shop in charity shops, or at boot sales. You can often find brand new items for next to nothing, and you could find the perfect gift for your loved one- perhaps a gorgeous vintage dress for your vintage-loving friend, or the first edition of your partner's favourite book.

11. Shop discount beauty websites like Fragrance Direct, The Beauty Store, and Cult Beauty for beauty product bargains at a fraction of the price. They're great for inexpensive gifts for stocking fillers, hampers, and gift boxes.

12. Take advantage of '3 for 2' and 'buy 1 get 1 free' multi-deals to save money, and get an extra present for your money.

13. Split 'buy 1 get 1 free' multi-deals with a friend to each save fifty percent on gifts.

14. Always search for a discount code before ordering online. You can usually find one for most online stores. Enter '[insert shop name here] discount code' in to a search engine, and it will lead you to all of the available codes. If there isn't a code available, perhaps hold off purchasing for a couple of days, and then try searching again. New discount codes appear all the time.

15. Follow your favourite shops and brands on social media to keep up to date with sale news, flash sales, offers, and discount codes.

16. Sign up to newsletters from the online shops you plan to purchase from- you'll often get a discount code for signing up.

17. If you have a birthday coming up before Christmas, remember to add your date of birth when you create accounts with online shops- you'll often get sent a discount code on your birthday.

18. If you have a store card, take advantage of the discount codes and special offers that they send you with your monthly statement.

19. Take advantage of the heavily discounted deals on websites like Groupon and Wowcher, who offer daily deals on gifts and experience days for a fraction of the original price.

20. Use the loyalty cards points you've collected over the year towards presents or the Christmas food shop. Your Boots points, for instance, could help you buy some great beauty gifts for your friends, while your Nectar points could bring down the cost of your Christmas food shop at Sainsburys.

21. Use cash back websites to find vouchers and get cash back on your purchases. You can get cashback with most popular online shops (depending on the company you sign up to), and it's super easy to do. Once you've signed up, all you need to do is log on to the cashback website, click through to the shop you want to purchase from, and shop as normal, and watch the pounds roll in! The amount of cashback you will receive will vary from shop to shop, but it's usually between 1-10% of your order total, and sometimes more. I personally use and swear by Quidco.

22. Place an online order with a friend or loved one and split the delivery charge between you. Combining your orders might even help you qualify for free delivery so neither of you have to pay a delivery fee!

23. Collect your online orders from store or a designated collection point to save money on delivery. Collecting your parcel is usually cheaper than the delivery charge, and often completely free.

24. Buy all of your presents from one shop, or as few shops as possible, to save money on delivery fees.

25. If you're placing an online order but haven't reached the free delivery threshold, and are likely to purchase from the website again soon, hold off ordering until the items in your basket build up and qualify for free delivery.

26. If your purchases haven't reached the free delivery threshold, perhaps hold off on ordering until the shop in question hosts a free delivery promotion, or you find a free delivery discount code.

27. Sign up to a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime for a month of free one day delivery on millions of products. It could save you a fortune on delivery costs for all those presents you need to buy, and you don't have to continue the membership after the 30 days are up- just remember to cancel the membership before the end of the trial month so you don't get charged!

28. If you're buying presents for friends and family you won't be visiting until after Christmas, perhaps wait for the Boxing Day sales to buy their gifts.

29. If you're creating hampers, gift baskets, or stockings for multiple people, buy items in bulk and split them. It's usually cheaper than buying the products separately.

30. Buy a couple of extra gifts to put in the present stash in case you forget someone or you have an unexpected guest over Christmas.

31. If you're travelling before Christmas, make good use of the Duty Free to buy presents for less than on the high street.

32. Pack shopping bags in your handbag or carry bags in the car to save you paying 5p for every carrier bag you'll need. Okay, 5p isn't much, but it soon adds up. Every penny counts if you're on a budget, right?

33. If you have a big friendship group or work with a large group of colleagues, why not do a Secret Santa? Everybody buys one gift and everybody receives one gift, and everybody's happy for saving a small fortune.

34. If money is really tight, just buy presents for the kids this year, and make an agreement with the adults not to buy each other gifts. Why not spend some time together instead?

35. Don't stick all your Christmas shopping on your store cards or credit cards unless you can pay off the bill quickly. If you don't pay it off straight away, you could find yourself having to pay back a lot more than what the purchases originally cost you. It's not worth it.

36. If it's expensive to park in your local high street or shopping centre, use the park and ride to save money. It'll likely save you time on finding a vacant parking space, too.

37. If you're a skilled crafter or artist and have all the supplies you'll need, why not make gifts for your loved ones instead of buying them this year? Your friends and family are sure to love the unique presents you make just for them, and appreciate the time and effort you put in to their gifts.

38. Save money on impersonal boxes of chocolates or expensive hampers, and make your own foodie gifts from scratch. Whether you want to gift cookies, Christmas cake, or even your own home brewed sloe gin, everything tastes better when it's home-made, and will go down a storm with your loved ones.

39. Remember to pre-order or buy the must-have Christmas toys / gifts on release day to avoid disappointment because they will sell out fast. 

40. Make sure you keep all receipts in a safe place in case anything needs to be returned. 

41. When shopping for presents at Christmas time, always ask for a gift receipt. A gift receipt works just like a normal receipt, except it doesn't reveal the price of the items listed, so you can pass along the receipt to the recipient in case the gift needs to be returned or exchanged without them knowing how much you spent on their gift.

42. Always double check the returns policy before purchasing, especially if you're unsure whether the recipient will like the gift, or if it will fit them. It will vary from store to store, so double check how long you have to return it, and whether they offer a full refund, exchange, or store credit only.

43. When ordering online, remember to advise the courier or postman where to leave your parcels if you're not home. It'll save you having to pop to the sorting office to retrieve them, or the parcels being sent back to the warehouse for redelivery.

44. Save yourself the hassle and stress of Christmas shopping on the high street, and do all of your Christmas shopping online from the comfort of your sofa. 

45. Do your Christmas shopping during the week, early in the morning, or late at night for an easier, and less stressful shopping experience, when the shops will typically be much quieter than during the day time on the weekend.

46. Be patient when you're Christmas shopping. It's Christmas; the shops are going to be hectic, and the staff will be working as hard as they can to serve everyone as quickly as possible. It's not their fault it's so busy; that one's on Christmas, so give them a break. They're human, just like you.

47. Wear a cross-body-bag to keep your hands free for all of those shopping bags. You'll be glad you did when your arms are aching under the strain of twenty shopping bags.

48. Try to keep your bag as light as possible to minimise the strain on your back and shoulders. Just bring the essentials- you'll thank yourself for it when you're weighed down by heavy shopping bags full of gifts.

49. Wear comfy clothes and shoes. You'll only regret wearing six inch heels when you've been standing in the same place in the queue for half an hour.

50. Wear layers you can add or remove if you get too hot or cold, because most shops will have the heating on full blast, and you're likely to get overheated while you shop and queue to pay. You'll be going in and out of the cold a lot, too, so you may find wearing layers far more comfortable than dressing in a single chunky knit jumper you can't remove in public.

Have you got any Christmas shopping tips you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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