Christmas is an expensive time of year, and it can be worrying to think how you are going to afford it all, especially if you are down to one income. This will be my first Christmas since I left uni where I don’t have a regular income, so I have had to be more careful with the money I have. How we spend our income as a family has had to change.
There are lots of easy ways to save money, and to even gain money while you are decluttering your home – win win. There are also other ways to get money if we really needed it for emergencies, such as credit cards or cash loans, though I prefer to plan ahead and save where I can. So I have listed 6 money saving tips that I have picked up this year since I gave up my job.
1) Do your food shop at Lidl
I may have mentioned this before, but seriously we have saved sooooo much money since doing our main food shop at Lidl. We do our big shop fortnightly, and what would have cost around £150-£180 at Tesco, costs £80 – £100 at Lidl. Do the maths. Even the nappies are a bargain – the same quality as Pampers Baby Dry, we get a box of 84 Size 4 Toujours nappies for £5. They have a huge selection of festive food now, so it would be worth doing your Christmas food shop there.
2) Ebay your clutter
Your clutter is someone else’s gold. I have made some much cash selling Lily and Tyler’s out-grown clothes, and it makes me feel happy that other children will be wearing them, rather than have them looking sad on the rails at the back of a charity shop. It does take time preparing to sell, as I wash the clothes, Vanish any stains, iron them, lint-roller any fluff off – basically make them to be in as good condition as possible. Then bundle up by size and photograph nicely – treat it if as you’re selling from your own shop. I then list them on a Tuesday evening for 5 days, so they end on Sunday night, with a starting price of around £1.50 – £2.50. Last week I sold a bundle for £19! Put good brands in your bundle, like Zara, Next, Ted Baker, along with your other brands. Those brand names catch buyers’ attention.
Other places to sell are Marketplace and selling groups on Facebook, which are good for larger items like furniture, cots, highchairs etc, so locals can collect from you. I have sold Lily’s spacesaver cots, baby chairs, her infant carrier. You get to meet locals too, and it’s nice to know where your pre-loved baby stuff is going. One of Lily’s cots went to a lady who thought she could not have children, but then miraculously got pregnant, so I love that our cot is being used by that miracle baby.
3) Use those giftcards
People have a habit of forgetting they have giftcards, and those supermarket vouchers. Use them! Spend your Boots Advantage points. Christmas is the perfect time to spend them on gifts. And keep an eye out for events, like triple points days at Boots, bonus vouchers in your Tesco clubcard statement.
4) Slim down your present list
It may sound harsh, but it is a good idea to talk about presents with your friends and family, set a price limit, maybe agree with certain friends that you won’t exchange presents this year, or you could do a Secret Santa with your group of friends like they do at work. You could do a ‘children only’ rule. In my family, we give each other a present wishlist, so we know how much to spend on each other. People are often in the same boat and understand, so don’t be afraid to broach this subject.
5) Shop at Outlet stores
It is worth it to shop at brand outlet stores – you can find products at half the RRP but still in as good condition as if it wasn’t from an outlet store. For example, I buy Tyler’s school shoes from the Clarks Factory store in Slough and there is nothing wrong with them – they are normally £44.99, but I got them for £20. I bought photo albums from our WHSmith clearance outlet which are also in perfect condition. £14.99 down to £3, and because they were on Buy one get Second half price, they actually came to £2.25 each! So it is worth doing Christmas shopping in outlet stores. You could go to the big Outlet shopping villages, like LDO in Wembley, the Bicester Village one, Gunwharf in Portmouth or the Ashford Designer Outlet. Make it a big day out.
6) Get Cashback when you shop online
I use Quidco, where you do your online shopping at participating retailers, but click through from the Quidco website so they can track your order and give you cashback. It goes into your cashback account and you can withdraw it when you need it. It’s worth it for big purchases to, like car insurance, where I got £20 last time. There are lots of cashback websites, and also voucher code sites, so google them. All those little amounts do add up, and if you were going to shop online anyway, it’s a bonus.
Retirement may have caused a reduction in your income. If so, a reverse mortgage can help because it does not have to be paid back right away. Instead, you can use the mortgage money, which comes from the equity in your home, to supplement your income for any purpose you want. By using a mortgage-calculator you can get an idea of how much money you can access. When you speak to a reverse mortgage lender representative he or she will tell you how much you can borrow. You can also set up the terms by which the lender will pay you. Repaying the loan will not occur right away. You can continue to live in the home without worry of defaulting in a traditional sense. Only when you no longer live there will the loan balance be due. At that time you or your heirs can pay it or the home can be sold.
Writing all this down doesn’t make Christmas seem so unachievable now. It should be an enjoyable time of year, the time to spend with family and spoil each with love and gifts.
Do you have any other money saving tips I could use? Do let me know in the comments.