We're savvy shoppers – here's how you can budget for Christmas now & save £500, plus the things you should NEVER do | The Sun

CHRISTMAS day is fast approaching so it's time to start counting (and saving) your pennies.

But you don't have to blow your budget to have a special day, just ask these money-saving mums.

Fabulous spoke with Laura Light and Emma Bradley who revealed how you can start budgeting now for Christmas day.

In fact, you can easily put away £500, says Emma and you won't even feel the pinch.

Plus, they reveal what not to do as it could be costing you more.

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THINGS TO AVOID

Don't use money-saving clubs.

While they might seem like a great way to help you save, Laura, who runs a blog called Savings 4 Savvy Mums, says to stay clear of them.

"They don't pay any interest on what you save. Also, if the firm goes bust, your money is not protected," she says.

Don't buy premium brands

There is no need to go all out and buy fancy brands just because it's Christmas.

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"No one will notice if your vegetables are tinned or frozen beforehand. Buying unnamed brands really can save you hundreds of pounds," Laura says.

If you want to buy brand-name clothes or accessories as gifts, check out designer outlet stores instead.

Emma says: "If they are into their labels look at outlets or shops like TK Maxx to take advantage of last season's stock. The only difference is the price."

Avoid buy now, pay later schemes

There's no denying how handy such schemes can be, but they might be doing more harm than good, Emma says.

"It is just another day, don’t buy now pay later for Christmas as you’ll be paying it off long after the decorations are back in the loft," she says.

"Spending time together is more important than the cost of Christmas."

Don't buy gift cards

A gift card allows the gift receiver to choose what they want and when but Laura reckons you should avoid them altogether because they're a waste of money.

"If the retailer goes bust then your gift card is not protected," she says.

"You also have to be very wary of expiry dates as some have a set one-year time limit. You may also lose them."

Don't buy Christmas cards

As cute as they might be when you walk past them in the shops, they are a waste of money.

It is just another day, don’t buy now pay later for Christmas as you’ll be paying it off long after the decorations are back in the loft.

Emma says: "Christmas Cards are not good for the environment or our pockets especially if we need to buy stamps and post them too.

"We can easily save over £50 if we usually buy and post, send a virtual card instead."

Don't buy too early

Shopping online can be great, but avoid buying items too soon before Christmas.

"While many high street retailers go above and beyond when it comes to Christmas returns, many online brands do not," she says.

"You have 14-days to return a product after it's delivered to you. Think before you buy and make sure that it will not need to be returned. "

You don't want to be left out of pocket because you can't return an item.

Don't save supermarket points for Christmas

Laura says: "Many big retailers are now putting a limit or timeframe on when you can spend your points.

"Spend them when you get them as they also are not protected if the business goes under."

BEST WAYS TO SAVE MONEY FAST

Look for discount codes

Emma says: " Shopping online can help you stay on track as you don't make as many impulse buys as you would visiting a shop.

"You can also often find online discounts or codes when shopping online. I use Topcashback too for an extra saving."

Use Google alerts and Google shopping

If online shopping is for you, set up Google alerts for your kids presents and try Google shopping too, Laura suggests.

"[Google shopping] searches all the big and small retailers and finds you the best price," she explains.

Buy early to spread the cost this way you can take advantage of sales or special offers.

Meanwhile, setting Google alerts early means you can watch for any sudden price drops and take advantage of the sales.

But Emma warned there could be hidden costs in delivery charges which can outweigh any savings, so always be aware.

Do an audit

First thing first, don't go out and splurge on gifts without doing an audit first, particularly if you're buying for adults.

"It is easy to forget all the games, make-up sets, and clothes that people already have," says Emma.

You can also do this yourself and sell off anything you don't need.

"This money can then be used to buy the new gifts," Emma adds.

Start food shopping early

Emma says: "When planning the festive food shop look for any special offers and buy a few things a week as this can help spread the cost.

Buy secondhand

Emma suggested shopping second-hand for adult gifts, for example,CEX for old computer games, tech and mobile phones.

"Do consider buying computer games secondhand as they work just the same and most people wouldn’t know," she says.

And try Vinted or Facebook marketplace for toys and clothes.

Try Secret Santa

Laura says: "If you have loads of adults to buy for then arrange a Secret Santa instead. Set a budget and get everyone to pick a name out of a hat.

"It makes for a fun Christmas day when you open the presents and means you only need to buy for one."

Pay by credit card

Laura says: "This may sound crazy but paying for items by credit card means that they are protected if something happens, let's say, the retailer goes under. "

But she warns you to only do this if you can afford to pay it off straight away.

Save and buy early

Emma says: "Buy early to spread the cost this way you can take advantage of sales or special offers.

"Just remember where you have put things so that you don’t forget and buy twice."

Emma says it's a good idea to start saving early too to avoid a huge shock.

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She says: "We start saving for next Christmas as soon as the past one has finished. This way, we only need to put a few pounds a month into our savings accounts and slowly build it up.

"We use the 1p a day money-saving challenge which means we have over £600 for when Christmas arrives."

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