With just three months to go until C-day (that’s Christmas), it’s time to take your heads out of the sand and get organised. Starting with…
Your finances. Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis talks us through his top tips for a financial niggle-free festive time. Christmas is a major expenditure, so plan now to avoid a New Year financial hangover.
Don't pay for Christmas from December's income
Never just plot a Christmas lust-list of everything you want. A typical family's Christmas spending is £835 - too much for December's income alone. So work out now what you can afford to put aside in October, November and December. Once you know how much you've got, ask: "What's the best possible Christmas we can have on that?"
Save money by making small sacrifices can save you lots
For example, walk instead of taking the £1 bus every day, or cut out the £2 lattes before work – every little helps. You don’t have to give it up, just work out which use of cash gives you more joy.
Don't borrow for Christmas, but if you do, ensure it's at 0%
Christmas borrowing's a bad idea. Far better to go, er, cold turkey, and have a more austere time (Christmas is just one day, after all).
The cheapest way is on a 0% spending card - done right, it’s interest-free. The longest currently on offer is Tesco’s, which offers 18 months at 0%. Yet even though the offer lasts more than a year (provided you make the minimum repayments), plan to clear it before next Xmas or you'll compound your problems. If you don't clear before the 0% term ends, beware - it'll jump to 16.9% representative APR.
Got it and don't need it? Flog it for fast cash
Many old items can be worth serious cash. Online auction giant eBay usually fetches maximum cash. But for a faster, easier return, use a comparison site to find the top online buyers for old mobiles and gadgets.
Set up a Christmas cupboard, then pounce on the biggest discounts
Don't waste time and money - be a tactical Christmas shopper.
Decide what you want, make a list, get a Christmas cupboard ready to put stuff in, then wait until what you're buying goes on sale at the cheapest price.
Keep an eye out for codes, vouchers and one-day sales to find those low prices.