How to save £1,000 between now and December 20 – and get sorted for Christmas
THERE’S just under ten weeks left until Christmas – but there’s still time to save £1,000 by December 20 and bag lots of festive freebies.
By putting aside a little bit of money each day and finding ways to cut your bills now you could save enough to cover the cost of Christmas.
If you can save £111.11 a week for nine weeks or £15.87 a day starting today (Thursday 17 October), you’ll have saved £1,000 by December 20.
And if you’ve got a partner, then you can try and split the task, saving £55.55 a week or £7.94 a day.
This might sound like a lot of cash to squeeze out of your budget, so that’s why we’ve gone through week by week to explain how you can save us much cash as possible.
We’ve separated these out in to weekly chunks but if you can get started on any of these sooner then you’ll have more time to raise the money.
Week one – get your finances in order
Firstly, sit down and make a list of all your outgoings and ingoings for the next 10 weeks. I find it easier to use an excel spreadsheet to do this, but a pen and paper is just as good.
Take a look at your bills – are there any that you can cancel? Brits overspend a massive £120 a year on services they no longer use, according to Marcus by Goldman Sachs, so chances are you can cut back on something.
If it’s a direct debit or standing order then you should be able to cancel this with your bank.
If it’s a payment set up directly with the company – known as a continuous payment authority or recurring payment – then you need to contact the company first. If they don’t help then you can ask your bank to help.
Also, if you’re on the lookout for toys this Christmas then there are loads of good ones around at the moment.
Checkout Sainsbury’s, Smyths, Lidl and Tesco. Remember to compare prices before buy – and see if you can use a discount voucher or cashback.
Remember to sign up to the Sun Money newsletter to keep you up to date with all the latest deals too.
Week two – haggle down your bills
Now that you have an idea of how much money you have to spare and what bills you need to pay, it’s now time to try and see if you can get a better deal on anything you’re paying.
Take a look at what bills you pay. Are there any that you’re out of the minimum contract period for? If so, is there a way to haggle down your bills? This is easiest with mobile, TV, broadband or landline contracts.
Do your research, see if there are better deals available for new customers. Call up customer services and explain you want to leave because you’ve found a better deal but is there anything they can do for you?
How to cut the cost of your debt
Being in large amounts of debts can be really worrying. Here are some tips from Citizens Advice on how you can take action.
Check your bank balance on a regular basis – knowing your spending patterns is the first step to managing your money
Work out your budget – by writing down your income and taking away your essential bills such as food and transport.
If you have money left over, plan in advance what else you’ll spend or save. If you don’t, look at ways to cut your costs
Pay off more than the minimum – If you’ve got credit card debts aim to pay off more than the minimum amount on your credit card each month to bring down your bill quicker
Pay your most expensive credit card sooner – If you have more than one credit card and can’t pay them off in full each month, prioritise the most expensive card (the one with the highest interest rate)
Prioritise your debts – If you’ve got several debts and you can’t afford to pay them all it’s important to prioritise them.
Your rent, mortgage, council tax and energy bills should be paid first because the consequences can be more serious if you don't pay.
Get advice – If you’re struggling to pay your debts month after month it’s important you get advice as soon as possible, before they build up even further.
Groups like Citizens Advice and Money Advice Trust can help you prioritise and negotiate with your creditors to offer you more affordable repayment plans
Week three – Are you owed cash?
If you’re out of work, got kids, have a low income or are ill then you may be able to claim benefits.
More than £10billion is unclaimed each year. Read our guide to checking your benefits to make sure you’re not owed more cash.
It’s also worth reading our guide to getting discounts and freebies if you’re on Universal Credit or benefits.
There might be other ways to get cash back too. If you’ve ever taken out a payday loan and the lender was irresponsible then you might be due back money. Read our guide.
It’s also worth checking if you’re in the right council tax band, as you could be owed thousands of pounds. Up to 400,000 homes across the UK are in the wrong band, read our guide to find out how to challenge it.
Also, if you’re married then you might be missing out on the marriage tax allowance. Over 700,000 couples can claim – but many don’t. Read our guide to getting back the cash.
Week four – Cut your food costs
If you’re looking to tighten your budget then cutting down your grocery bill is a great way to start.
From finding the best coupons and vouchers to using cash back and even the best time to find yellow stickers, our guide reveals how you can seriously slash your food shopping bills.
Week five – Freebie finding time
Earlier this week, we spoke to self-confessed freebie queen Ana Maria Macovei. The 29-year-old revealed how she’s blagged over £1,000 of free stuff.
It takes time for the freebies to start coming in, so it’s worth starting now. You’ll want to apply for competitions and freebies using websites such as LatestFreeStuff.co.uk and FreebieFinder.co.uk.
There are dedicated competition websites you can apply through too, such as PrizeFinder.com and MoneySavingExpert has a good list of comping tips too.
You can use whatever you get as stocking fillers – or even sell them at a car boot sale or on eBay to make extra cash.
Week six – it’s Black Friday bargain hunting time
This week it’s Black Friday. It’s the perfect time to snap up Christmas presents – and hopefully save yourself a bit of extra cash.
Before it begins make a list of what you want to buy – and stick to it.
Firstly, check out our Black Friday 2019 hub page for all the latest deals. Check prices at rival retailers online before you buy and remember to use cashback websites to get extra discounts.
How to get help for free
There are lots of groups who can help you with your problem debts.
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
- StepChange – 0800 138 1111
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
You can also find information about Debt Management Plans (DMP) and Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVA) on the Money Advice Service website and on the Government's .Gov.uk site.
Speak to one of these organisations – don't be tempted to use a claims managment firm that will claim it can write-off lots of your debts in return for a large up-front fee.
Week seven – Make extra money
From boosting your savings to flogging your junk and even doing some odd jobs online. We round up 50 ways to make money from home. Have we missed any? Let us know by emailing [email protected]
Week eight – can you cut your debts?
If you’re struggling to save money because you’re already in debt then it’s time to sort out your finances.
Write down a list of what you owe and to who. If you’ve got credit card debt then use a soft credit card check such as MoneySavingExpert's credit card eligibility calculator to see if you can apply for a top 0 per cent balance transfer credit card.
Soft credit card searches don’t affect your credit score and let you know if you’re likely to get accepted. This is important because if you’ve been searching for credit then lenders can think that you’re desperate and turn you down.
If you’re able to switch to a balance transfer card then work out how long it will take you to pay it off and set up a standing order for this amount each month. Remember to factor in if there’s a fee for transferring the cash.
Depending on how much you owe and the state of your credit then it might be wiser to get a loan. Do your maths and work out how much you can afford to pay off each month and how much you’ll pay in fees and interest before you sign up.
If you’re seriously in debt then it’s time to get help. You can get free advice from Citizen Advice, National Debtline or Stepchange. They can help make arrangements with companies you owe money to.
Week nine – always use cashback
When you’re shopping or signing up to a new broadband or even insurance company, always remember to check for cashback.
The best two websites are TopCashback and Quidco – both are free to join but you can pay extra to access some services, such as faster-paying cashback.
The golden rule with cashback is to do your research. Start off with an item you want to buy and find the cheapest price, then check cashback websites to see how much you can get and work out what is the best deal.
Most cashback sites pay within 30 days of purchasing but double check as this does vary and we don’t want you to miss out on cash before Christmas.
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