AUGUST has only just begun and Christmas is probably the last thing on most people’s minds.
But if you’re on a budget, it might be a good idea to start planning how you’ll save for the big day.
We spoke to personal finance expert Julian House, of My Favorite Voucher Codes, about how you can save £662 in just four months before Christmas.
The average Briton spent £446 on Christmas gifts and £256 on food during the festive season last year – so it makes sense to spread the costs over the months leading up to the event.
But with inflation expected to hit 11% later this year and the cost of living rising, families will be looking for ways to put their money to work this Christmas.
From changing your supermarket store to canceling subscriptions, Julian has shared five ways to put enough money aside so your Christmas spending doesn’t wipe out your bank balance.
Cancel subscriptions – save £184
Households spend an average of £46 per month on subscription boxes, according to Barclaycard Payments.
This includes subscriptions to monthly meal prep, food delivery, and beauty boxes like HelloFresh and Glossybox.
Canceling these subscriptions could save you around £184 by Christmas.
Julian says people often subscribe to these boxes to save time, but they just end up paying extra and maybe not even using the products.
Other areas for subscription savings, including discounted gym memberships and services like Netflix and Spotify – check what you’re actually using and ditch it if you’re not using it.
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 bang for your buck before the holiday season is to look for discount coupon codes.
According to Julian, a typical household could save around £226 a year using promo codes.
He added: “From flights to experience days and electronics, there is a voucher code for almost everything.
“In an age where every penny is squeezed out of every piggyback ride, the best way to get the most bang for your buck is to research coupon code discounts before making a purchase.”
The Sun recently spoke to Jordon Cox, the UK’s coupon child, who has saved £15,000 a year by researching discount codes and savings vouchers.
Don’t forget to make the most of supermarket loyalty programs – we’ve put together a guide to all the programs currently on offer.
Change supermarket – save £333
If you don’t shop, your shopping list could be hundreds of dollars more each month than it should be.
Switching to a less expensive supermarket could help lower your grocery bill.
Julian says: “Just changing supermarkets and making a list can save you up to £1,000 a year.
“You can also take on the challenge of downgrading – avoiding all the best labeling and actively seeking own values and brands.”
The downshift challenge saves between 15-30% on the weekly shop.
The Sun recently rounded up supermarket bargains, including on soft drinks and chocolate, which could save you £340 a year.
We’ve also put together a handy guide to the best and worst supermarket hacks on TikTok.
Consolidate your debt – save £42
Debt consolidation is a way to control your expenses and have only one monthly repayment to manage.
It’s a way to reduce the amount of loans, credit cards, or debt payments you make.
Julian says it could save £42 in four months, largely thanks to large interest payments on various different debts.
But getting into debt to pay off other debt isn’t always the right path for many people, so you need to be careful – seek advice if you’re unsure.
The Sun recently spoke with 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 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 common advice for anyone hoping to lower 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 just a matter of preparation.
He added: “Start looking online for plans similar to the one you’re on and compare the costs.
“And fill in 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 issues recorded during your contract.
“It’s just bread-and-butter bargaining.”
Earlier this year, which one? found that broadband customers who switch from ‘Big Four’ providers, which include BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, can typically save around £190 a year.
TV and broadband customers can save even more – typically over £200.
Although this trick only really works if you’re leaving a big company – if that’s you, it could save you a lot of money.
Where can I get help with my bills?
If you are having difficulty with your food bill, there are a number of charities and organizations that may be able to help, in addition to providers who offer their own grants.
Hardened households can get free money to cover essential living costs, including a £36 voucher for groceries.
The additional support is part of the government’s Household Support Fund (HSF) initiative.
The current batch of funding will be available until September 30 – but households are urged to apply for help as soon as possible.
The money is distributed to local councils, who will decide what kind of help to offer in their area and who is eligible.
To find out what support is available in your area, speak to your local council directly or visit their website for details.
Even if you don’t qualify for help under the Household Support Fund, you may be eligible for money elsewhere to help with the cost of living.
A number of councils have opened their applications for discretionary funds 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 receive an extra £300 later this year.
Those on Universal Credit and Benefits will also receive a one-time payment of £650 to help cover living costs.
If you’re worried about the cost of living or debt, a number of charities may also be able to offer you free advice or help:
- National Debt Line – 0808 808 4000
- Stage change – 0800 138 1111
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060