Christmas. Just hearing the word can make your bank account shudder.
The festive period is meant to be one of celebration, but - particularly in the lead up - it can add enormous amounts of stress and financial concern to your plate.
But why should that be the case?
At Christmas, considering how much is spent on the high street and online, any financial saving is a bonus – no matter how small. So, let’s take a look at seven ways which could leave a little more change in your pocket this December.
Once an arduous task, switching your bank account couldn’t be much easier nowadays. After seven working days, it’s done.
And banks are actively encouraging you to utilise the simple Current Account Switch Service by rewarding those for doing so.
Halifax, for example, will offer you £50 before your switch completes with their Reward Account*, meaning that’s one or two less presents to worry about this Christmas.
What’s more, if you remain in credit, pay out at least two direct debits and pay in at least £750/month, they will reward you with a £2 bonus each month.
And this is not just for those who are new Halifax customers. As long as you have not had a Halifax switch bonus since January 2012 and are not switching from the Royal Bank of Scotland, you’re eligible, even if you have another Halifax account.
If you’re not eligible for Halifax’s Reward account, First Direct’s Current Account may be an avenue of interest.
If you pay in more than £1,000 within the first three months, you can claim either a £120 Amazon Echo, £150 in Expedia vouchers, or an online self-development course which usually costs £150-£1,000*2
Once you have met the criteria, an email containing your registration code should arrive within 14 days, but you then have to wait a subsequent five days before receiving the order code needed to choose the freebie – so it could be tight to claim your reward in time for Christmas. But it could be great if you have a little extra time to buy this year.
Also, bear in mind that you must pay in £1,000 per month moving forward to avoid the bank’s £10 a month fee.
Christmas voucher schemes
If switching banks doesn’t take your fancy, supermarket voucher schemes might.
Although they do not have the same protection as savings in a bank, it’s a great way to spend a little less on your food and drink shop this year.
Iceland, for example, offer an electronic bonus card which gives you £1 free to spend at any point every time you top your card up by £20. You can add as much as you want*3
, but note you can only store £1,000 per card.
Once you top-up, Iceland will automatically add the £1 within 48 hours.
If Iceland isn’t your local, the Co-op also run a similar paper-based incentive.
Just top-up your paper savings stamp card by £48 and get £50 to spend instore throughout December*4
Although there is a cap on how much each card can hold - £48 - you can use as many cards as you wish. Just remember to capitalise on the saving in December, as this is a seasonal offer.
Travelling over the festive period can be a nightmare, none more so than via train.
But if you are using the railway this winter to head home, visit family or enjoy a winter break away, don’t let the cost of travel defeat your Christmas spirit.
Splitting your tickets can be a great way to save cash, particularly on popular routes.
Instead of buying a ticket for the whole of your journey, purchasing tickets for its constituent parts can slash the price.
So, for example, if you’re travelling from London to Newcastle, but the train calls at York, you could potentially save by buying a ticket from London to York and York to Newcastle.
You could even retain your seat throughout the journey, just have two tickets.
Websites like TrainSplit
will do the legwork for you, although the former will take a 10% cut of the cost. So, use it for research, then buy your tickets elsewhere for an even greater saving.
1/3 off train travel for Tesco Clubcard holders
If you have any Tesco Clubcard vouchers hanging around, until February you can exchange £10 for £30 on RedSpottedHanky
, earning a nice little discount on train tickets*5
It includes cheap advance fares and you can use your railcard, too, although there is a £1 booking fee.
Cut posting costs
It seems the norm to hunt out your local Post Office when sending a parcel or package, but could it be costing you more?
typically use DHL or UPS to carry out their service, with their prices often cheaper than Royal Mail while offering the same delivery options.
They’ll even organise for your parcel to be picked up from your home, although the service is only really cost effective if the item you’re sending weighs more than 2kg*6
Get cashback on your online shopping
If you prefer to complete your Christmas shopping from the comfort of your own home, sites such as Quidco
could also save you a pretty penny.
After you’ve created an account, simply click through to your desired website via the platform, complete your purchase, and a percentage of your bill will appear back in your account.
Another way to save online this Christmas is to use sites such as VoucherCodes.co.uk
Merely head over to the site, search for your desired shop, and if there are any discounts you can get your hands on, they will appear.
Also, with vouchers changing regularly, it’s good to keep an eye on your selected site.