The great big Christmas spending guide 2015

christmas spending guide

Following on from the results of our Christmas spending survey, we’ve put our collective heads together to bring you our great big Christmas spending guide.

Below you will find useful information on how to save money this Christmas – from the cheapest places to buy this year’s ‘must have’ toys, the best credit card deals to cover your Christmas spending, our top tips to saving money when shopping online this Christmas, how to cut your Christmas food bill this year and lots more.

If you have any tips of your own to save money this Christmas, please share them on our Facebook page.

must have christmas toys

Star Wars toys are set to be the biggest selling toys this Christmas thanks to the release of new Star Wars film The Force Awakens (in cinemas from Dec 18th).

The Star Wars Jedi Master Lightsabre has topped the list this year and experts say it is the most in demand toy for the season.

Judging by the popularity of all of these toys, you probably shouldn’t wait any longer before buying them for your little ones. We’ve included the RRP in the list but also added where the cheapest place to buy at the minute is. Happy shopping!

1. Star Wars Bladebuilder Jedi Master Lightsabre

jedi master lightsabre toy

RRP – £49.99

Current cheapest – Amazon – £44.97

 

2. LEGO Star Wars Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle

Lego Star Wars Command Shuttle toy

RRP – £98.97

Current cheapest – Toys R Us – £82.99

 

3. LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon

Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon toy

RRP £129.99

Current cheapest – Toys R Us – £99.99

 

4. Thunderbirds Interactive Tracy Island Playset

Thunderbirds interactive Tracy Island

RRP £79.98

Current cheapest – Boots – £59.99

 

5. Disney Frozen Sing-a-long Elsa

Disney Frozen toy Elsa singalong

RRP £39.99

Current cheapest – George at ASDA – £30.00

 

6. LEGO City Deep Sea Exploration Vessel

lego city deep sea exploration

RRP £79.99

Current cheapest – George at ASDA – £49.97

 

7. Little Live Pets Cleverkeet

Little Live Pets Cleverkeet Toy

RRP £59.99

Current cheapest – Boots – £45.00

 

8. Paw Patrol Paw Patroller

Paw Patroller Toy

RRP £59.99

Current cheapest – Argos – £59.99

 

9. Shopkins Scoops Ice Cream Truck Playset

Shopkins ice cream truck toy

RRP £19.99

Current cheapest – George at ASDA – £16.00

 

10. V-Tech Toot Toot Friends Busy Sounds Discovery House

V tech discovery house toy

RRP £49.99

Current cheapest – George at ASDA – £25.00

 

11. IDO3D Deluxe 3D Design Studio

design studio toy

RRP – £39.99

Current cheapest – Smyths Toys – £24.99

 

12. Pie Face Family Game

pie face game

RRP £35.99

Current cheapest – Argos – £19.99

 

best christmas credit card deals

With the spending season fast approaching, you may be thinking about budgeting and managing your money. With that, comes the idea of applying for a credit card, allowing you to spread the cost of your Christmas expenditure.

Here we’ve listed the top three credit card deals for Christmas shopping. We’ve grouped them as ‘best cash back cards’, ‘best reward cards’ and ‘best interest free card’ so you can easily see which card is best for you…

Best cash back credit cards

Cash back credit cards are best for those who are in a position to pay off your debt each month as you will then earn free cash back on your purchases.

American Express

American Express are offering a 5% introductory rate when taking out their Platinum Cashback card.

You can earn 5% cash back which is capped at £125 for the first three months. After three months, the rate drops to 1.25%.

There is a £25 annual fee on this card and has a high purchase APR of 22.9%. For this reason, it is best not to borrow on this card.

American Express (again!)

American Express have another great cashback credit card available – their Platinum Cashback Everyday Card. This card also has a 5% introductory cashback rate for the first three months. This is capped at £100 and after that you can earn between 0.5% and 1.25% cashback, depending on how much you spend.

You must spend at least £3,000 on this credit card to receive cashback but there is no annual fee.

Natwest/RBS

Natwest/RBS have their Cashback Plus Credit Card, which offers 1% cashback at all supermarkets and 0.5% cashback on all other spending.

There is a promotional offer of 3% cashback on supermarket spending which lasts until the end of 2015. There is an annual fee of £24 and an APR of 12.9% on spending.

Best rewards credit cards

There are lots of great reward credit cards on the market right now, however, it is important to note that the interest rates are usually quite high, so you should only consider getting one if you are in a position to pay the bill in full each month.

House of Fraser

The House of Fraser Recognition Card offers 3% back on all in-store and online purchases at House of Fraser and 1% back on all other spending.

The interest rate is 24.9% and includes a £10 welcome voucher.

Lloyds Bank

There are two cards available for the Lloyds Bank Choice Reward credit card – an American Express card and a Visa card.

The American Express card will earn you 1.5% back on all spending and offers double points for the first six months. The card is also capped at £2,500 per month.

The Lloyds Visa credit card offers a lower rate reward and there is an annual fee of £24. However, if you are a Club Lloyds current account customer, £12 of this fee is refunded each year.

Debenhams

Similarly to the House of Fraser card, the Debenhams MasterCard offers a 3% reward rate on in-store spending and 0.5% on all other spending. There is no annual fee with this card and the APR is 24.9%.

The card also pays £5 worth of bonus points when you get your first monthly statement.

Best interest free credit card

If spreading the cost of your Christmas shopping is what you are after, an interest free credit card is ideal.

You should only take out one of these credit cards if you will be in a position to pay off your debt after the interest free period is over. Otherwise an interest rate will occur.

The Post Office

The Post Office Matched MasterCard has the longest interest free deal and they are offering a huge 27 months before any interest is added. After this period, a rate of 18.9% will be applied.

Clydesdale

Clydesdale also offer a credit card which is interest free for 26 months.

Yorkshire Bank

Finally, Yorkshire Bank have a credit card on offer which also includes a 26 month interest free period.

 

save money christmas shopping

It’s now surprise that internet shopping is becoming more and more popular. There’s many benefits of online shopping, such as: it’s easy to price check in different stores, it’s quick and easy to make payments, and of course, it saves us from marching up and down the high street, tying to manoeuvre through the crowds whilst your copious shopping bags threaten to snap and fall in a muddy puddle.

Here we’ve listed some great tips to help you save money when you shop online. So grab a cuppa, get your list ready, and start shopping!

Click and collect – you may always skim past things when ‘checking out’ of your basket. But opting for click and collect will save you spending money on postage.

Clear your cookies – retailers often analyse your online habits – like the websites you visit, spending patterns and your location. By doing this, they are able to offer different prices for different customers. Before doing any shopping, clear your cookies, delete your browsing history and log out of any social media platforms so retailers have no access to this information.

Cashback websites – cashback websites such as Quidco.com and Topcashback.co.uk are a great way to earn money back from what you spend. By visiting retailers through their websites and making purchases, you are able to claim back a percentage of what you spend.

The percentage of cashback will vary from retailer to retailer but the average is around 7%. You should also note that it can take a few weeks and sometimes months for your cashback to ‘clear’ – often to make sure you don’t return your items and still receive cashback. A bonus to this is that after Christmas is done and dusted, you still have a little something to add to your bank balance, and chances are you’ve probably forgotten it’s coming!

Loyalty cards – most high street stores now offer loyalty cards and they can be a great way to save money at Christmas. The way to get the most out of these cards is to save up your ‘points’ throughout the year and then use them to pay for Christmas gifts in December. There are often double or triple point days during the year so it is always wise to keep an eye out for those.

Discount codes – it can be very beneficial to check websites such as vouchercodes.co.uk and hotukdeals.com before making any online purchases, as you may come across a voucher or discount code to suit your needs.

Price check – before buying something on the first retailer that you visit, try looking at similar retailers to compare the price. Sometimes there will be no difference, but often you’ll find they can vary quite a lot. Alternatively, you can type the product in to Google, and competitive prices will show up right before your very eyes.

Choose your day wisely – Many retailers start special deals and offers on a Wednesday or Thursday, sometimes even Friday, so you may end up spending less money on these days than you would shopping at the weekend. Also, look out for specific day/weekend/seasonal sales such as Black Friday (November 27th 2015) and Cyber Monday.

Credit cards – if you shop online and use a credit card, consider switching it to one that offers cashback. There’s lots on the market and by using one, you can earn money on what you spend.

 

save money on Christmas food

That big food shop we all do before Christmas will no doubt cost a lot more than your usual weekly shop. It’s easy to get suckered in with fancy confectionary, novelty snacks and basically anything that seems like a deal.

Here are some tips to help you cut that food bill this Christmas:

Make a list

Before you hit the supermarket before the big day, sit down and write a list. Be realistic with yourself (do you really need that extra box of crackers?) and ask family members too (is anyone going to eat that bag of chestnuts?).

Don’t be too hard on yourself, there are going to be plenty of treats and luxuries in the trolley at this time of year, but think about what you really want and need.

Buy in advance

In the weeks (or months if you are super organised) leading up to Christmas, when you do your weekly shop, pick up bits and bobs that you’ll need over the festive period. Don’t forget to cross them off your list so you don’t end up buying more!

Shop around

Most of us are used to one supermarket, and we stick to that supermarket religiously. However, shopping around can save you some pennies as different places have different prices and different deals.

Buy fresh and local produce

Instead of buying your fruit, veg and meat at the supermarket, head to your local market and butchers. You’ll get much better quality produce for a much lower price.

Don’t shop hungry!

Shopping when you are hungry is one of the biggest grocery shopping mistakes anyone can make! Everything makes your mouth water, so everything goes in to the trolley! Be sensible and have something filling to eat before you head on out.

Shop online

Just like online shopping, online food shopping is becoming more and more popular. One of the main benefits is that before you ‘check out’, you can see exactly what is in your trolley and how much it comes to. If you have overspent, it is quick and easy to remove something from your list – and saves any embarrassment at a till full of people.

Share the bill

If you’re hosting a big Christmas dinner for lots of family members, or even if you are attending someone else’s house, why not all contribute to the food bill?

There are a couple of ways of doing this. The first is just splitting the bill evenly between the guests. The second is designating people to buy and make different dishes. For example, your sister could make a tray of roast potatoes and bring them over, whilst your mum makes her delicious Christmas pud.

If you have people who aren’t very confident in the kitchen, tell them they can bring a bottle of wine, or a selection of cheeses. Just don’t forget to cross the things off that list you made!

Watch out for supermarket deals

We all love a good deal, so when we see ‘buy one get one free’ or ‘three for two’, we tend to snap them up without thinking. At Christmas time, deals like these can be great, and genuinely can save you money. But try to think whether you actually need these things before sticking them in your trolley. You’ll only end up spending more than necessary.

More Christmas spending tips

Make a list

Before you do any Christmas shopping, sit down and make a list. Write down everyone you have to buy presents for and your budget for each person. Every time you buy something, refer to your list and cross people off to avoid over spending or even forgetting them!

Whilst you’re list making, make another one noting all the food and drink you need for over the festive period. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, buy bits and bobs during your weekly shop to cut down that big Christmas food shop.

Secret Santa

This is always a good idea for groups of people, be it friends, family or colleagues. It works well as everyone buys just one gift for a set amount of money (depending on everyone budget), and everyone gets a present. It’s easy to do and takes the stress away of buying for 8 or 9 friends.

Don’t take out a loan!

We’ve all seen the adverts – ‘Payday loans are quick and easy. And the money can be in your bank within minutes’. However much you are struggling over Christmas, don’t take out a payday loan. You will end up paying much MUCH more back in interest.

If money really is an issue, there are plenty of ways for you to save money. It’s estimated that 1.4 million people will take out a loan this festive season. And although you may have a very merry Christmas, you’ll be in a hell of a lot of debt come January.

Make your own cards and presents

There are hundreds and hundreds of tutorials on the internet for you to make your own Christmas gifts. And you could save yourself a fortune. Plus, it’s much nicer to get a thoughtful, handmade gift from someone.

Set budgets

The majority of us spend more than we set out to, but if you have written down how much you want to spend on each person, and as a whole, you are much more likely to stick to it. When you buy things for people, deduct what you have spent from your total budget so you know where you are and what you have left to spend. But don’t beat yourself up if you go a little over budget.

Go to the pound shop

Instead of spending lots of money on fancy wrapping paper which is always way overpriced, head to your nearest pound shop and buy your rolls from there. Yes fancy wrapping does look extremely pretty, but let’s be honest, it’s what’s inside that counts!

Make room for new toys

Before Santa leaves a huge sack of new toys and games for your little ones, why not make a bit of room – and cash – buy selling some old ones. You could do a car boot sale or sell things on Ebay. If you’re not too bothered about making a couple of quid, let them go to a good home and drop them off at a charity shop or at your local hospital.

Entertain the kids for free

Whilst your children have two long weeks off school, don’t fill every day by taking them here there and everywhere and spend a fortune. Do activities that don’t cost anything – play board games, go explore a new park, have an arts and crafts day (which can double up as making some handmade presents).