Don’t be fooled by the recent heatwave — Christmas is coming!
In fact, it seems to arrive earlier and earlier every year, thanks to Black Friday sales, Christmas fairs, and relentless advertising.
If you’ve already got your eye on a few things for a niece, grandson, spouse or significant other, now is the perfect time to start saving smarter.
Tony Mills, Director at Online Tax Rebates, has some top tips to share ahead of the season of giving and excess.
Budget like a business
To make the most of your money, treat your finances as a business would. Make a budget, including all incomings and outgoings.
This will help you spot areas where you can make savings. You’ll also be less likely to get caught out by unexpected costs.
Save on your bills
It can be difficult to increase the amount of money you have coming in. But you have much more control over what goes out.
For many of us, household bills make up a large chunk of our spending.
You could save hundreds of pounds by switching utility providers, or even just calling your supplier direct and asking for a better price.
If you have any monthly direct debits for services you aren’t making the most of, it’s time to cancel them.
Check your tax entitlements
It’s easy to ignore tax entitlements because they sound complicated, but you could have a lot to gain.
By just being married, you could be entitled to free money from the Government if one of you is a non-taxpayer and the other is a basic rate taxpayer (20 percent).
In 2019, the Marriage Tax Allowance is worth up to £250. It can be backdated up to a total of £900.
Believe it or not, you could even be due a tax rebate if you wear a uniform to work.
If you’re required to wear branded clothing, you could be due a one-off rebate. It only takes a couple of minutes online to check using an online calculator.
Don’t overstretch yourself
Britons now owe an all-time high of £217.3 billion in consumer debt, with £72.9 billion just on credit cards.
In the run up to Christmas, it can be tempting to dip into your overdraft or put money on credit cards.
Don’t leave it to the last minute to buy your Christmas presents, as you won’t get the best deal.
Save the date in your diary for Black Friday (29th November) if you’re keen to do some serious shopping. It’s not unusual to find popular gifts with 50-75% off.
If your finances are looking tight, prioritise which Christmas events, meals out and parties you attend.
Don’t be embarrassed to say you’ve got too much on, or your finances won’t allow.
Waste not want not
Christmas may be the time for excess, but did you know that the average family could save £70 a month by reducing their food waste?
Being crafty with leftovers, planning your meals and getting your portions right are just some of the simple things you can to do help both yourself, and the environment.
The supermarket shelves at Christmas can be overly tempting. But before you put anything in your basket, check the sell by date. Will be able to eat it in time?
It’s easy to overestimate what you need to buy when catering for larger number than normal. Plan ahead to avoid over-buying.
For more financial advice from “The People’s Friend”, click here.