Shropshire Star

Money Saving Amy: 'Don’t suffer later for a short-term festive hit'

Hello everyone. December already! Hasn’t this year flown by.

Christmas shopping advice.

Now that the countdown to the big day is really on, I wanted to share a few words of advice on how to not overspend this Christmas.

This is crucial, especially with the cost of living crisis affecting so many people. There is so much pressure to spend during the festive season, but it is important to resist temptation as you could end up with months worth of debt.

Here are a few pieces of advice:

•Firstly, and most importantly, set a budget and stick to it, you may think “that’s easier said than done” but when you manage it, you’ll really thank yourself. The key to this is, if you’re considering over spending, you have to look at where that extra money is coming from. Don’t just leave it to change, work out where that extra would come from and that may make you reconsider if it’s worth the over spending.

•If you’re considering buying a gift, of any sort, firstly stop and think about whether you could get it second hand from somewhere such as Vinted or Facebook Market place, or a charity shop. If none of these are an option, make sure you’re shopping around for the best price.

•Think about suggesting to friends and family not to exchange gifts and instead do something such as a meal, a day out or even just a home gathering with Christmas snacks and board games. Making memories over material things has become my motto for a long time now.

•Rather than buying things such as decorations, consider hand making decorations, perhaps even with materials you already have in your house. This could be a fun activity as well as a money saving idea!

And finally….

•Remember that Christmas is just one day, many people may say the build up to Christmas is better than the day itself, by the time Boxing Day comes, the shops will be stocking the shelves with Easter eggs, so don’t over spend for the sake of one day. Think ahead to the plans you’d like to make next year, for example if you over spend at Christmas, will that affect what you can do throughout January and February? This thought keeps me motivated not to go beyond my budget in December.

Now I’m answering a couple more of my most asked questions regarding all things money saving.

How can I save on my food shopping?

There’s a few ways to do this. Firstly, ensure you have loyalty cards for all of the supermarkets, this is the easiest and most simple way you can save money. Personally I save up my reward points throughout the year and then my Christmas food shopping is “free”! Many supermarkets now also do “lower” pricing it you have a loyalty card, this isn’t usually actually “lower” it’s just that the price without the loyalty card is over inflated, so ensure you’re not paying those prices.

Utilise apps such as “Olio”, for free food, and “Too Good To Go” for heavily discounted food. Along with “Shopmium”, “Greenjinn” and “Checkout smart”, all three of these apps will offer you free and heavily discounted food and drink.

For even more cash back on your food shopping, use the following apps; “Jam Doughnut”, “Airtime rewards”, “Top Cashback” and “Quidco”.

A simple but effective tip, is that if you go to a supermarket and are tempted to over spend on items you don’t need, try and stick to online shopping and getting deliveries, a lot of the supermarkets offer very cheap delivery slots and some offer delivery passes too. You could also click and collect to avoid going into the shop. This is also a great opportunity to research affordable recipes on google/social media etc while you’re doing your shopping, rather than randomly selecting ingredients in the shop. A page I highly recommend is @_myfirstmeals on Instagram which is full of affordable recipe ideas, each recipe contains just 5 ingredients!

Also, check your cupboards before going shopping, I’m sure most of us are guilty of buying things such as sauces, condiments, pasta, rice etc that we buy “just incase” when actually we may already have a cupboard full from the previous shopping trips.

How can I save money on eating out?

Utilise loyalty schemes, many pub chains, restaurants and cafes offer loyalty schemes that may result in discounts and/or freebies. Similarly, many places offer sign up rewards that you could claim such as free drinks or free desserts. Top tip: places often offer one freebie for downloading their app, and another freebie for signing up to their mailing list, so this is worth keeping an eye out for.

Here’s a list of some of these sign up freebies:

Sizzling pubs - Free drink

Ember inns - £5 off

Subway - Free side

Greggs - Free bake and free hot drink

Vintage inns - Free pudding when signing up to the mailing list, plus a free drink when signing up to the app.

*All offers could be subject to change at any time*

Have a lovely week everyone!

For more daily money saving tips and the latest freebies, follow me at @_Moneysavingamy.