Christmas on the cheap

Want to squeeze the most out of the festive period without making yourself skint? Martin Lewis,the thrift guru otherwise known as the Money Saving Expert, gives his tips for saving cash this Christmas

  • Get up to 5 per cent off everything
    To encourage you to spend on them, cashback credit cards pay you each time you use them, in the hopes you’ll rack up great swathes of interest. Yet set up a direct debit to repay in full each month, and you’re not charged a penny. Currently the top card gives 5 per cent cashback for the first three months. Apply as early as you can and get your card in time for the crucial Christmas and January sales period. Find more ideas.

    Don’t use Tesco Vouchers for Christmas food
    Lots of people store up Tesco’s Clubcard vouchers for Christmas treats, yet this is a massive waste. You get four times the value, (ie. £5 becomes £20) if you redeem them on things in the Tesco Clubcard Rewards brochure. Rewards include days out, gifts, jewellery, magazine subscriptions and more, so it’s great for gifts at a quarter of the price.

    Get the cheapest online price with shopbots
    If you do buy gifts, don’t do it on impulse. Create a list then search for the cheapest prices using a 'shopbot' (shopping robot). This is a price comparison website, like Twenga or Foundem , which searches scores of internet retailers to find the cheapest price – for books, games, CDs, DVDs, electrical goods or more. Or try The Mega Shopbot, which combines different shopbot results.

    Spread the cost without a special credit card
    One big mistake people make is to try and pay for this massive event out of December’s income. If it’s unaffordable, you end up borrowing cash, leaving them starting off the new year in hock. So if you’ve not started saving, there’s still time now to put away money for October, November and December. And it is also possible to spread the cost into January interest-free, even without a special 0 per cent credit card, by spending on an empty card in December, and ensuring you repay it in full in January.

    Use discount vouchers rather than pay full price
    In the run-up to Christmas, shops are desperate to attract new customers, with discounts and deals, but don’t want to give reductions to their walk-in trade who’d be shopping there anyway. To do this they use special click ‘n’ print web vouchers for those prepared to look. As we near Christmas there are loads around; a daily updated list of all the hot legitimate ones is here and a wider range at

    Grab store card discounts at no cost
    Pre-Christmas high street retailers try to bribe us with huge introductory shopping discounts if we sign up for their store cards. The problem is the disgusting 25-30 per cent interest rate. Thus never, ever, ever borrow on store cards. Instead, the disciplined can spend on them to bag the discount, and immediately repay in full while there’s no interest charge. Better still, team up with friends, so one gets a card, you all spend on it for the discount, and they give you the money. Then next time you shop, someone else gets the card and you use the same trick to perpetually keep the discount.

    Get expensive perfume on the cheap!
    Forget big department stores for perfume – a whole bunch of specialist online sellers sell it for a fraction of the price. Better still, buy the even cheaper unboxed bottles, then get a pretty box and wrapping for a couple of quid. This way, they think you went to extra effort but actually you saved extra cash. For a full breakdown go here.

    Knock hundreds off your Christmas food and drink shop
    Use to compare the cost of your big Christmas shop at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Ocado (Waitrose) and Asda online. Even if you don’t want to actually buy online, it’s a good indication of which store is generally cheapest.
    For more tips on saving cash at any time of year, visit

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