The Best Money Saving Tips At Christmas

There’s less than one month until Christmas, as I’m sure you’ve noticed by all the christmas decorations and mince pies in the shops. For some people, it’s far too early to be thinking about Christmas, some are full of holiday spirit all year round, and others may celebrate Chanukah, Eid or owt.

No matter what you are celebrating, the festive season can be the most expensive time of the year. Big retail days like Black Friday in November has also encouraged higher spending in the run up to christmas. In fact, a typical UK household spends about £3,300 in the month of December to cover the cost of Christmas. According to the Bank of England, that’s about £800 more than an average month!

This means that saving money for christmas has become an even more important part of managing your finances. Going into your overdraft to afford the christmas spending can be even more expensive than borrowing money, even online payday loans. To help ensure you don’t get into the situation of having no money for christmas, read through out list of the top tips to save money. 

How To Save Money At Christmas

Pink Christmas Presents

Plan for the Festive Period

Lists are not just for Santa. Make sure you keep track of the people you need to buy presents for, the food you must have, and any decorations that are essential. Then work out your budget and see what is actually doable. Thinking about Christmas this early can help, as you’ve got time to start saving!

Do Secret Santa

Talk to your friends and family members about doing a Secret Santa this year, instead of buying everyone a gift. That way you only need to buy one present instead of loads for each of your friends. This is a great thing to do at work too.

Switch Your Bank Account

A lot of people don’t like to switch bank accounts, as they think it will be a lot of hassle. The biggest issue tends to be your current bank trying to tempt you to stay though. If you swap banks, a lot of them offer an incentive of up to £200! Some may call it bribery, we call it free money.

Enter Competitions

While this is not a sure fire way to get extra presents (for yourself or others), entering into loads of free competitions could be a good way to source smaller gifts. Even if you don’t win the main prize, you could win something, so why not give it a go?

Shop in Discount Supermarkets

While it’s common to have some treats aside from christmas dinner, it’s true that most of us buy a bit too much food at Christmas. But it doesn’t have to be from the most expensive supermarkets. Discount shops like Lidl and Aldi have much cheaper options, and often stock German festive food like stollen and gingerbread.

Check For Amazon Discounts

Items on Amazon are for the most part reasonably priced anyway, but there could be ways to save even more. The Money Saving Expert site has a great page where you can search for Christmas gifts and get up to 75% off.

Sell Old Gifts

If you’ve still got a gift from your last Christmas haul lying around, why keep it? Whoever gave it to you has probably forgotten by now, so don’t expect to see its pride of place in your living room… Selling old unused presents could raise enough money to buy half of the gifts for this year!

Order Gifts Early

Buying gifts in November means that you don’t need to pay for priority delivery – you’ve got loads of time. So you can always choose the cheapest delivery option.

Online Outlets

Although shopping on the high street can be fun, if you can stand the crowds, it can be a lot cheaper and do your Christmas shopping online. There are loads of online outlet stores if you don’t live near any outlet villages. You can even do online shopping for more expensive brands like Superdry— they have an online outlet store on eBay.

Second-Hand Doesn’t Mean Second Rate

There is nothing wrong with buying second-hand gifts if you know someone will love it regardless. Charity shops often sell things that are in fantastic condition or even new. Sites like eBay can also have great deals that will cost less. If you’ve got transport, you can even pick up things locally via Gumtree.

Buy From Abroad

Companies like Wish and AliExpress can offer you things from clothing to cameras for a fraction of the price. The only catch is that some things will take up to 6 weeks to arrive – better start looking soon if you want to get presents in time for Christmas!

Cashback Credit Cards

If you have a cashback credit card, you’ll get money every time you spend. As long as you pay back in full each month, it’s interest-free. Some credit cards pay 5% for the first three months, so you could get a lot back if you use the card for larger expenses. This may not be an option if you have bad credit.

Get Items on Sale

Almost all shops have a sale on towards the end of a season. As we enter into winter, you can probably bag a few bargains you can give as Christmas presents.

Quite a few people are thinking about Christmas in January – if you shop in the January sales this year, you can get wrapping, cards and decorations for next year! As long as you have a place to store them, and don’t forget they’re there, this is a great way to save money.

Book Tickets in Advance

People travel all over the country (and abroad) to get home for Christmas. Train tickets can be expensive if you buy them last minute, so make sure you check the prices as soon as possible. If you’re eligible for a railcard, this can pay for itself on your first trip if you’ve got a long way to go.

Look For Cheap Deals

It’s always a good idea to shop around. If you find something you like on one website, but it’s too expensive, you may be able to find it cheaper elsewhere. Google Shopping can often show you the cheapest deal.

Make Homemade Presents

Even if you’re not that creative, you can still make your own gift vouchers – perhaps promise a meal eating out, or a weekend away. You’ll have time to save a little more money if it’s a trip you need to pay for.
For those of a more artistic temperament, there are loads of great ideas to amaze and inspire on sites like Pinterest.

Don’t Post

Stamps can be expensive. This is a universal truth. So if you’re sending tons of Christmas cards each year, it’s probably costing far too much. Perhaps try sending e-cards this year instead.

Cheap Show Tickets

If you subscribe to a newsletter or mailing list, you may be able to find theatre or show tickets for discounted prices. You can also look on sites like TheatreMonkey to get the best deals.

Chicken or Turkey?

It might sound a little radical, but do you need to buy a huge turkey for Christmas? They’re often marked up due to the season, and a lot of people prefer chicken anyway. You could also go veggie this year and have a nut roast!

Use Your Loyalty Cards (Sometimes)

Many shops have loyalty cards, but we tend to forget to spend the points we save over the year. Now is the best time to cash in the points you’ve earned! You can sometimes also convert points into vouchers that you can give as gifts instead. But be cautious, read about how using loyalty cards and being too loyal to retailers can be more expensive!

Ways To Bring Your Car Insurance Down

Car insurance is something everyone has to pay for. Having a car insurance is essential because it covers your expenses in the event of vehicle damage or injuries to other drivers, passengers or pedestrians. It’s easy to save hundreds of pounds a year on your car insurance, yet most people stay with their existing provider and pay far more than they should because they are unaware of how to save. But there are plenty of things you can do to make sure it doesn’t leave you out of pocket.

The best way to save money on any outgoing is to shop around the market and compare everything from prices to cons and perks. See what deals are being offered and which one caters to your financial needs and only then jump into it. By doing this you are able to compare the quality of the policy and have an idea of the best price to negotiate with your existing insurer if you want to stay with them of course. 

Here are a few top tips we think you can use to reduce the cost of your insurance:

Use a comparison site:

If you’ve not done this before you should try it now. It will definitely save you hundreds of pounds on a renewal quote. This is a simple and easy way to compare prices and while results will broadly be the same across most comparison sites, they may slightly differ enough for you to make the best decision for yourself. So it is worth checking a couple of these sites before taking a decision. Here are a few examples you can check out:  Compare the Market, MoneySupermarket, or

Shop around for the best car insurance policies:

When shopping around for car insurance, it’s important to make sure that you are comparing like-for-like cover. Some policies may seem cheaper, but you may find you don’t have the same level of cover when you have to make a claim. If you’ve been happy with the cover your existing provider has given until now but are unhappy with their renewal quote, let them know that you have been looking elsewhere and have received a better offer from a rival insurer and ask them to at least match it. I’m sure no insurance company wants to lose a customer, so they will give you options and offer discounts and you can pick out the one that suits you best. Comparing prices is essential to finding this information. You can save hundreds of pounds if you shop around before you renew your cover.

Protect that no-claims bonus:

A long no-claims bonus is the single best way of cutting car insurance costs, so protect it. This may increase the premium by a few pounds, but this fades into insignificance against the potential loss of a 90% discount on a premium of several hundred pounds. Although the definition of a protected no-claims bonus can vary widely between insurers. The fact is that accidents caused by another driver will normally have no impact on such a bonus but those caused by the insured could. Also, if you have an older car that isn’t worth very much, a third party, fire and theft policy rather than comprehensive cover could save some money.

But third party-only insurance might not offer the cover level you want, and it isn’t always cheaper than comprehensive cover. The key is to always check the policy carefully and consider every detail.

Secure your car:

Fitting an approved alarm, immobiliser or tracking device in your car can attract a discount of around 5%. Many newer cars will come with these as a standard inbuilt feature, so make sure you check if you have them and then declare them. Drive safely and park in well lit areas or at night in a garage to reduce chances of break-in. 

Think carefully about adding young drivers:

Adding a young, inexperienced driver to your policy can be considered as false economy, especially if you have a large or higher powered vehicle. The premium will still be affected by the youngest driver and they may not have a no-claims bonus. Insurers have also been focusing on fronting, where experienced drivers such as parents insure cars in their name for children to cut costs, so make sure if you are the policyholder on a car driven by your children that you are actually its main driver, or that you declare otherwise. 

Pay upfront:

Many insurers charge interest on your payments if you decide to pay monthly payments. This is because car insurers treat split payments like a loan – with some charging 30% APRs on them. On a big quote, that can be hundreds of pounds extra over the year. Not all of them do so, but it’s the case for a lot of them. So try and pay upfront if you can and save money in the long run. 

Use the right job title:

Most of the general population is unaware of this and how they can work around it. Did you know, If you describe yourself as a “chef” when filling in your car insurance application your average quote is £98 higher than if you write “kitchen staff”? “Music teachers” pay £86 more than “teachers” & “office managers” pay more than “office administrators”. This basically means, tweaking your job description can change costs. For more on how your job affects your car insurance, check out GoCompare’s guide on how to use the right job title to save costs.

Be a better driver and sign up to a BlackBox:

For those of us who are unaware, Black box car insurance is when your insurance provider uses a type of telematics equipment (a method of monitoring a vehicle) – known as a black box – to keep an eye and set your premiums based on your driving habits. These equipments basically check your speed, how harshly you accelerate and brake and how carefully you drive, and also whether you are on the road at perceived dangerous times – i.e. the early hours of the morning. They can cut down premiums substantially once you start proving you are a good driver. The biggest win is for those whose premiums are high, especially young drivers. Some insurers even offer an upfront discount if you take out a telematics policy.

Black box car insurance and any type of telematics cover is generally suited to groups seen as ‘high-risk’ by insurance and may be especially beneficial for you if you are young or inexperienced driver. 

Consider what vehicle is best for you

Cars having a smaller engine are more likely to have a low insurance therefore tend to have lower premiums as well. And just the same way, road tax on a smaller engine vehicle should also be cheaper. To explain this better, a two door smart car insurance premium would be cheaper than an SUV which comparatively has a large engine.

Every insurer will treat every sort of vehicle differently though. For example, some classic cars are very affordable to cover as insurers recognise the love that owners put into them and you may find a discount through an owners’ club.

Take a driving course

Advanced driving courses such as Pass Plus scheme cost money but they will get you a discount on your insurance with some companies, especially when it comes to young and inexperienced drivers. But keep in mind that not all insurance companies will take courses like these into account. Always weigh up whether the savings on insurance will outweigh the course cost or not.

Limit your mileage

Even though in the beginning your insurance premiums may be high, especially if your a young or inexperienced driver but you can always bring it down in time. You can do this by Limiting the number of miles you drive each year –  fewer miles, lower the risk for insurers, leading to cheaper insurance.

But always give an accurate estimate of your mileage when getting a quote – your policy could be invalid if you’re not honest.

So if you are looking top bring your car insurance down and are unsure as to how you can do this, follow these steps, do your research well. Weigh your options and write down the pros and cons. Then think and decide what is the best option for you and never jump into this blindly. After all, the goal is to save as much as you possibly can!

7 Budgeting Apps To Help You Manage Finances By Christmas

Are you still paying off for a holiday you took this summer? Not to mention there is only one month to go until Christmas arrives – So now would be a great time to start planning and saving for the upcoming holiday season. We know you may have too much on your plate to manage considering all the things you have to do in your daily budget by yourself, so we’ve rounded up some of the best apps we think will help you save before Christmas this year! 

We all know how important money management is. According to Bank of England data, UK households typically spend £500 more in December compared to other months during a year. Considering this, If you haven’t planned ahead already, it could result in an empty wallet in 2020 which arrives sooner than you can say ‘Save it’. In fact, research suggests that  many Brits don’t manage to pay off their Christmas debts until the following April. That means four months down and you still have lingering after effects of that spending spree you went on with a loan that is now a burden on your shoulders. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way if you do it right the first time around. From interesting ways to cut your expenses, to warning notifications when you’re over-spending, these apps can help you build up those savings before and after christmas for any rainy days to come. 

All of the apps we’ve chosen to look at are both FCA-approved and regulate open banking providers.

Introduced in January 2018, open banking enables third parties to access your financial information in a secure, encrypted way. It’s like looking at your bank statements to verify your income and outgoings without the third party having access to your online banking.

So here’s what we think can help you save:

1- Money Dashboard

Price: Free 

Availability: iOS, Android, Web

Features: This app’s dashboard allows you to see all of your accounts in one place, including current accounts, savings accounts as well as credit cards. With all of your income and spending automatically categorized, it’s easy to see where your money is being spent, and you can set targets and goals for each and see where and how you can save. This can be particularly helpful if you need to cut down on costs such as eating out or take away coffees at work. Furthermore, the app sets out your predicted income, expenditure and balances for future references and you can always work around that and plan a month ahead! If you’re looking to save some money for Christmas or generally any other event, being able to see ahead of time can show you how much you need to start saving. More than 70 UK banks are supported in the app, from the big high street banks to smaller challengers, with more being added soon.

2- Oval Money 

Price: Free 

Availability: iOS and Android 

Features:The Oval Money app allows you to monitor your spending, and set up ‘Steps’, as a way of saving and then it sets out rules based on these habits. One rule might be to pay into your savings whenever you go for a run or post on Facebook, for instance. Oval currently works with 28 banks and credit cards, which you can sync to your account. Your savings with Oval are held in a segregated account at Barclays. Keep in mind that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme will protect deposits of up to £85,000 per provider, so if you have other accounts with Barclays, this will add to your total. The app also features ‘Oval Coach’, which sets you savings missions to improve your habits. Again, setting future goals is the key here. Think it and then do it. The more missions you complete means you are now developing better spending habits. Sounds like a hard thing to do to suddenly change you spending habits – but the more money you save, the better your future.

3- Yolt 

Price: Free 

Availability: iOS, Android, Web

Features: Yolt puts all of your bank accounts, credit cards and pension investments in one place, supporting more than 35 banks and institutions. Your spending is split up into categories so you can see where it goes. This is also aided by a three-month spending-history charts which shows you a pattern of your spending’s. This way you are able to Judge and control any upcoming spending sprees. Upcoming payments are also highlighted, so you can avoid any nasty surprises. You can set and track spending limits for each category, monitor renewal dates for any bills and subscriptions as well as make payments and switch energy providers – all of which should mean you’ll have more money to salvage away as savings for any thing up ahead.

4 – Emma 

Price: Free 

Availability: iOS and Android 

Features: Emma is described as a ‘financial advocate’ for your money. The service aims to help you avoid overdrafts, track debt, cancel needless subscriptions and save money. You can track your spending and set budgets, plus receive notifications to let you know when you’ve received a refund, when your direct debits are going to leave your account and when your salary has been paid. It also helps you keep track of any cryptocurrency investments you may have. All of this means you can get a full view of your finances at any point in time, making it easier to identify where you can save money.

5 – Cleo 

Price: Free 

Availability: iOS, Android, Web 

Features: Unlike the other apps listed here, Cleo works through Facebook Messenger. You can ask interactive questions like ‘Can I afford a night out?’, and expect to receive answers that give insights into how your spending is going this month – and maybe a witty gif at the end. Cleo also sends notifications, quizzes, insights and challenges to keep you up-to-date and engaged with how your money’s doing. The app basically keeps you on your toes when it comes to finances with some puns intended. You can choose which accounts you want to link up. The app is only able to read your transactions and make calculations based on your income and spending, you can’t move money within the app itself. There’s also a Cleo wallet feature, where the AI calculates how much you can afford to save each week, and saves it away before you spend it. Quiet clever isn’t it. Every little action from the app helps towards that Christmas budget you know you need.

6 – Bean 

Price: Free 

Availability: iOS and Android 

Features: Unlike like Mr.Bean (pun intended), this app is all about tracking and staying in control of your regular payments and managing your subscriptions. You can connect your bank and credit card accounts to the app and the dashboard will find all recurring payments. If you find, for example, an old gym membership you never use, the app can sort out cancellations, as well as provide a comparison and help you switch services if you want to get a cheaper deal elsewhere. Bean also notifies you if any of your bills are going up for renewal dates for things like insurance contracts. This way you get to make sure you’re not paying out any more than you need to.

7- Moneyhub 

Price: 99p a month/£9.99 a year; £1.49 a month/£14.99 a year via the App Store

Availability: iOS, Android, Web 

Features: This app has options for individuals and businesses both. Moneyhub allows you to connect all of your current accounts, credit cards, savings accounts, mortgages, pensions and investments in one place to get an in-depth analysis of your spending and savings. Once you’ve sorted that, you can then set up budgets for different spending categories. The app will send you ‘notifications’ to let you know how far through the budget you are. Knowing that you’ve nearly spent your eating out budget for the month might encourage you to cook at home instead. For trickier financial decisions, there’s Moneyhub’s ‘Find Advisor’ feature. This puts you in touch with professional advisers and, with your consent, it can share all of the data you’ve connected to the app to give them a full overview of your situation. They are then able to analyse the data and answer any questions you have and help you see where there maybe gaps for savings.

So here is an overview of apps we think may help you save by Christmas this year if you start today. So what app do you plan to use? As you know, every penny counts!