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How to Prepare for Christmas on a Budget

Rebecca Bebbington·Sep 16, 2022

With budgets tighter than ever this year, we’re looking for ways you can trim the cost of Christmas with planning, budgeting and money saving alternatives.

The festive season is creeping closer, and although we’ve only just waved off the summer, now is the time to start preparing, planning and budgeting for the big day.

Planning for Christmas on a budget.

Costs can quickly spiral at Christmas time, which is why we’ve created a complete guide on ways to get a hold of your finances ahead of the festivities.

From gift buying to Christmas dinner, take the pressure off your bank this Xmas using our helpful tips & tricks to see you through the season.

What’s in this Guide?

Plan & Prepare

One of the best and easiest ways to ensure you don’t overspend at Christmas time is to plan & prepare. And with the cost of living crisis unfolding, now more than ever is the time to get savvy with your spending.

This can mean working out a realistic budget for yourself, using planners and lists to help you keep track of your finances as well as marking key sale events in your calendar like Black Friday.

Black Friday and other huge sales are just weeks away from Christmas, so you should use these as an opportunity to get your Xmas shop for the best prices.

All you need to know about Black Friday 2022

When is Black Friday?

Black Friday is the biggest sale event of the year, marking the start of Christmas shopping across the globe. And this year, the iconic event is due to land on Friday 25th of November.

Black Friday is now best shopped online for the best bargains.

But as many of us savvy shoppers know, the event typically extends into the following week, with Cyber Monday taking place the Monday following Black Friday and sales continuing throughout the week. Eagled-eyed shoppers may even notice sales landing on the days leading up to Black Friday.

Argos, Smyths Toys, Curry’s and Very are just a few big named brands you’re likely to see slash their prices during the Black Friday week, though thousands of high street and online stores are expected to participate this year due to the cost of living crisis.

How can I make the most of Black Friday 2022?

  • First and foremost, marking the date in your calendar is the first step to your BF action plan.
  • Beat the crowds and shop online! Avoid the mayhem of stores and shop from your sofa.
  • To ensure you’re not overspending, make a list of everything you’re wanting to buy and keep your budget in mind. Black Friday week is the perfect opportunity to bag any of the more expensive items you’re wanting to get your hands on as these are less likely to be on sale again until after Christmas.
  • Plan which stores you’re wanting to shop at. Got your eye on an air fryer from Curry’s or the latest LOL doll at Argos? Make a list of exactly where you want to shop and sign up for their newsletters. This is the best way to stay in the loop with all their latest news & deals leading up to the big day.
  • It goes without saying that the earlier you shop, the more likely you are to get your hands on the things you need. In the past, websites have crashed due to high traffic, so beat the crowds and shop early. We recommend between 8-9 am!
  • If the item you’re looking for is not on sale, don’t panic. More deals drop throughout the day. Bookmark the page and refresh it every so often to keep tabs. It might be that the specific item you want is due to go on sale on Cyber Monday, so don’t lose hope.
  • Item out of stock? Set a reminder for an email update once it comes back in stock! Most websites have this feature now so it’s worth doing to ensure you get your hands on what you need.
  • Christmas is around the corner so keep this in mind during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. From stocking fillers to electronics, beauty, homeware and even decorations and wrapping – BF is the perfect time to get prepped for the big day on a budget.
  • Lastly, don’t get carried away. With bills soaring and pay packets being stretched to their limits, overspending for the sake of it could really damage your finances. Just because it’s on sale, doesn’t mean you need to buy it. Create a budget and priority list and stick to it.

Want all the latest on Black Friday 2022? Take a look at our Black Friday deals for updates on participating stores and how to get your hands on the best deals.

Upcoming Sale Events you need to know about

While Black Friday is one of the most notorious sale events of the year, that doesn’t mean you won’t see sales dropping here, there and everywhere in the run-up to Christmas.

Upcoming Sale Events 2022

Mark your calendars, the toy sales are incoming and here are the dates you need to know:

  • Morrisons Toy Sale – Predicted Date: 10th October 2022 (in-store)
  • Tesco Toy Sale – Predicted Date: 28th September 2022 (in-store)
  • Aldi SpecialBuys Toy Sale – Predicted Date: 25th September 2022 (online). Thursday 29th September (in-store)
  • Argos Half Price Toy Sale – Predicted Date: 21st October 2022 (online & in-store)
  • Sainsbury’s 50% off Toy Sale – Predicted Date: 12th October 2022
  • Asda Toy & Baby Event – Predicted Date: 12th September 2022
  • Smyths Toys Sale – Predicted Date: 21st October 2022

Our Best Sale Shopping Hacks

Just because you’re buying something on sale, doesn’t mean you can’t maximise your savings. Here are our top money-saving hacks to squeeze more out of your Christmas gift budget:

Use your Rewards Card

If your chosen store has a loyalty scheme, make the most of it and swipe your card at the checkout. If you’re buying early, these points will add up for you to use at a later date. Or if you’ve been banking your points all year, why not use them to cut the cost of your next purchase? 

Check Stock Availability

Check stock before making the trip to bag the best bargains.

Where possible, check the stock availability of an item you’re looking for online before shopping in the sale. Set an alarm for 12 pm, often sales can begin at this time. If not, set another alarm for 5 am – the earlier you shop, the more likely you are to get your hands on exactly what you want!

Shop Early!

Toy Events are popular all year round, especially at Christmas. Make sure whether you’re shopping online or in-store, you’re getting in there as early as possible to avoid missing out. Shoppers will be queuing ready to fill their trolleys so make sure you know your store’s opening times to be first through the doors. The same goes for online shoppers, be ready to fill your boots at the crack of dawn!

Keep Track with a List

Keeping track of your gift buying is an easy way to avoid overspending on Christmas Gifts! Make a list of who you are buying for, what the gift is and how much it costs. Being able to see how much you’re spending in black and white is a great way to monitor the costs.

Set a Realistic Budget

As mentioned earlier in our guide, setting a budget this Christmas is key to reducing overspending. It’s easy to feel pressured and tempted to go overboard at Christmas time, rack up unnecessary debts and burn yourself out for what essentially is one day of the year.

Set a realising budget for christmas.

First of all, work out how much you can actually afford to spend this Christmas. How many paydays are left before the 25th of December and how much of that can you afford to put aside?

Next, you will need to plan how much you’re going to spend at Christmas. And that’s not just on gifts, consider food & drink, decorations and wrapping as these extras can quickly be forgotten.

If you find that there isn’t enough room in the budget for everything, you’re either going to need to make cutbacks or figure out some ways you can earn some extra money!

Make a List

This leads us nicely on to list making! Lists are your best friend when it comes to getting Christmas done on a budget and can go a long way in ensuring you’re not overspending.

Start off by making a list of all the people you want to buy gifts for, and what you would like to buy them. Once you know what you’re shopping for, you can start to compare prices and seek out the best discounts!

The same goes for the festive food & drink shop. Write down every item to the last crisp to ensure you stick to your budget. Ps – don’t forget to check it twice!

Save on Presents

It’s no secret that we associate Christmas Day with gift buying and presents. And as much as this can bring us so much delight, many of us struggle to keep up with the demand, and what is supposed to be a joyous time, can become a financial burden.

If you find your Christmas budget just isn’t stretching, it might be time to cut out some of those expensive rituals.

Swap Gifts for Secret Santa

Buying gifts for your immediate family is one thing, but once you add on extended family, friends, and friends of friends, it can become a seriously expensive and unmanageable task!

Secret Santa can be a great way to save money on buying gifts for everybody.

If you’re working on a tight budget this year, instead of everybody buying each other gifts, why not host a secret Santa with friends & family? This is a fantastic way for everybody to save money and can actually be an exciting experience.

Is it necessary?

With temptation and bargains everywhere during the festive period, it’s easy to lose our senses and go overboard. But with budgets tighter than ever this year, why not ask family & friends if gift buying is necessary?

Sometimes, being non-obligated to buy a gift is the best gift you can receive! And you never know, they’re probably thinking the exact same thing.

Make Small Cuts Backs

Do you usually grab a takeout coffee on the way to work? Maybe you love a Friday treat on your lunch break? If you want to go all out at Xmas, making small cut-backs now could add a little bit extra to your Christmas Budget.

If you spend £2 per day on lunch or coffee, that’s an extra tenner every week to add to the Xmas tin!

Combine Gift Buying

If you have a special friend or family member that each person will buy a gift for, combining gift buying is a great way to save money! Everybody can club together a small amount for a special gift as opposed to all buying your own individually.

Create your own Gifts

Why not get creative this year and try your hand at making your own memorable gifts? There are tons of tutorials and homemade gifting ideas out there on the likes of YouTube or TikTok. It could be as simple as a fun card, or why not give knitting your best shot?

Make your own gifts.

There are so many fun and affordable ways to create your own gifts and with time in our favour, now is your perfect chance to start preparing!

Shop Online for Less with our top 10 online money saving tips

If you plan to shop online for your Christmas gifts this season, we’re here to ensure you save as much as possible! The team here at NetVoucherCodes know a thing or two about saving money online, and we’re spilling the tea on exactly how you can do so this Christmas.

1) Buy second hand

Buying second-hand is not only a handy way to save money, but it’s also great for the environment. You’ll find loads of second-hand items on online marketplaces like eBay, Depop and Vinted as well as pre-loved items from local sellers on Facebook groups.

Many of your favourite online retailers also provide second-hand sections on their websites. These are especially popular with mobile phones and electronic sites.

Instead of buying brand-new this Christmas, shop for refurbished iPhones, laptops and tablets from brands like O2, musicMagpie and Laptops Direct and save money on your second-hand devices.

2) Use Loyalty or Rewards Cards

If you shop at the same store regularly, it’s well worth signing up for the loyalty scheme or rewards programme!  Look for a loyalty scheme before you shop and sign-up to collect rewards.

Many retailers provide members with points for money off future spending as well as free gifts and discounts on selected products.

Save or spend your rewards and enjoy regular treats throughout the year. Some loyalty programmes even provide birthday treats and hierarchy systems that allow you to accumulate bigger and better rewards with every purchase!

3) Make an Online Shopping List

One of the biggest culprits of overspending is shopping without a list. You’ll often find that you spend way more when casually browsing online than when you shop for an individual item that you actually need. Avoid buying for the sake of it by making a list and sticking to it. 

Another good tactic is to add items to your basket and leave them for a few hours before buying. In most cases, you’ll find you change your mind once you’ve had some time away from your shopping cart. Also, avoid shopping when you’re bored as this is the prime time for impulsive buying. Do your bank account a favour and shop when you need to. It’ll save you a lot of money in the long run.

4) Compare prices

We all have a list of go-to brands that we tend to revisit time and time again, but brand loyalty is not always the best way to go. Before you buy your next beauty essential or expensive branded purchase, make sure you shop around and compare prices. 

Comparing prices is not just for holidays or insurance either, you’ll often find high-end beauty products cheaper on sites like Lookfantastic and Asos than you would at their own branded retailers. It’s also a good idea to compare the cost of popular kids’ toys and gadgets around Christmas as some places really like to jack up prices.

5) Use a Voucher Code

The first thing you’re going to need to do if you’re after a quick discount is search for a voucher code. You’ll be surprised by how easy it is to grab a saving on your order with a code in hand!

Compare Prices Online

NetVoucherCodes have working & official promo codes for the majority of our retailers at any given time – so you’re more than likely guaranteed to walk away with a nifty saving. Simply search for your retailer or browse through our categories. Why not have a look at our Top 30 codes live on our site right now?

6) First order discount codes

Keep your eyes peeled for first-order discount codes when shopping online! You will often see these pop up on the homepage when browsing. These are fantastic for making great savings on your very first order if you’re a new customer. Keep in mind these will require you to sign up for their mailing list so if that’s something you could do without, simply unsubscribe once you’ve collected your discount.

You could even set up a new email address if you don’t wish to receive regular emails from the store. This is also another great tip if you’re an existing customer as you will receive a first-order discount.

7) Sign up for Newsletters

One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re kept up to date with all the latest offers and discounts from your favourite retailers is to sign up for their newsletter. This is always free to do using your email address. Some stores even offer a discount on your first order when you sign up!

By signing up, you will be kept in the loop with any of their latest deals, upcoming sale offers & dates and much more. Many stores also send you an exclusive discount on your birthday. Sign up for your favourite store’s online newsletter today and keep your eyes on your inbox for some serious savings.

8) Refer a Friend

If you’re a regular shopper at one of your favourite stores, why not share that love with mates for an exclusive discount? Most stores offer you and your friend a discount for referring them. They will usually offer a referral link which your friend will need to use to make their purchase! And once they have, you and them both could save from 5 to 20% off your next order. You may even get a cash discount and loyalty points if you’re a member.

Refer a Friend

The best part is that most referral schemes don’t have a limit, meaning you can share the love with as many friends as you like. And the more friends you refer, the more discounts you will bag yourself once they make an order.

9) Student discounts

Just because you’re a student, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the things you love! Students can make huge savings online with sites like Student Beans and UNiDays.

If you’re at college or university, sign up for free using your student email address. You’ll spot hundreds of popular online stores from fashion & footwear to travel sites, home stores and even restaurants.

Why not check out what student savings we have live on our site right now? You could be saving up to 25% off at your favourite stores!

10) NHS & Blue Light discounts

Online stores love to give back to our NHS heroes which is why if you work for the NHS, you can enjoy exclusive discounts just for you!

Apps like Blue Light Card are free to download and feature hundreds of special offers and voucher codes. All you have to do is log in using your NHS Email address and verify your account to get started.

For more tips & tricks on how to save money online, check out our Saving Money Online Shopping Blog where we share our top secret tips for bagging a bargain online.

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