Recent YouGov data has revealed that 60% of Brits are planning on spending less on Christmas this year because of the rising cost of living crisis. With the cost of living crisis showing no signs of easing, deciding how to approach buying presents this year might seem overwhelming.
If you’re feeling lost about where to start with your Christmas shopping and worried about approaching the topic with your friends and family, Alina Jaffer, personal finance expert at Virgin Money has teamed up with some savvy individuals to share 5 money-saving tips and tricks for your present buying this year.
Alina says: “Consider splitting the cost of a gift across the year by gifting a subscription service this Christmas. Whether you are offering to pay for someone’s Spotify, Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription, this will be a well-loved present that the recipient is sure to enjoy. If the price of a full year seems too steep, why not offer to pay their subscription for 6 months and set up a direct debit that covers their monthly cost.”
Shop second-hand where possible
- Hannah Istead lives in Barry near Cardiff and regularly shares her car boot and charity shop bargains on her TikTok account. She will be shopping second-hand for her presents this year.
- “We have always shopped second-hand for a few things at Christmas but this year I’ve been planning early and picking up gifts at car boot sales and online to make hampers. Shopping second-hand should be encouraged; Christmas can be so expensive otherwise.”
- “Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve bought a new Neom pillow spray for £1 (usually £20) a body scrub for £1 (usually £15), brand new Jaeger trousers with the tags for £2.50 (usually £110) and I regularly pick up new face masks for less than £1.
- “We’re also looking at bigger items either second-hand or refurbished, such as a coffee machine or exercise equipment and garden furniture from Facebook marketplace.”
Choose experiences over things
- Joseph Seager, personal finance blogger at thriftychap.com, is opting to gift days out this year to save money while maximising family time.
- “Do your kids need another set of plastic toys or can you arrange a trip together somewhere? How about using the money to buy a pass to the zoo or a theme park? You could even team up with grandparents and pool money for an annual family pass.
- “It’s important to not put financial pressure on loved ones. You could have an open and honest discussion with friends and family about not exchanging gifts this year. It might feel awkward bringing it up, but the other person could be thinking the exact same thing. Rather than exchanging gifts with friends of the family, how about just planning a beach day together? You’ll make loads of memories and have more fun!”
Make the most of cashback
- Joseph adds: “If you do buy gifts, whenever you shop online, click through to the retailer via a cashback site to see if you can make some money back. Every penny in your pocket is important and, if you can earn some cashback, you’re building a little pot of money. Even 1% adds up!
- “Quidco and Top Cashback are the most popular, but you can also save money with the JamDoughnut app – simply buy a gift card & earn cashback on that, then use the gift card to pay for your purchase.
- Alina adds: “Many current account providers offer cashback benefits, so make the most of the services that are available to you and switch your current account to get the best deals to help boost your Christmas shopping!”
Prioritise who gets presents
- Alina said: “It’s always a tricky decision, but with money a little tighter for many this year, it might be worth prioritising who receives gifts. Rather than buying for everyone, consider the below options for cutting costs and deciding who gets presents.
Just the kids
- “Making Christmas magical for the youngest members of the family is usually a priority for most. Rather than buying presents for the whole family, maybe just buy for the children. Agree on a plan with wider family and friends beforehand to ensure that everyone is on the same page.”
- “This classic office gifting tradition is one that you might want to consider for wider family and friend groups. Buying one present rather than multiple is guaranteed to cut costs. For those taking part, everyone chooses a name of someone to buy a gift for at random and then they buy something suitable that fits within a pre-agreed budget. Only the person giving the gift knows who the recipient is and once all the presents have been given, people can guess who their gift is from.”
- “In this variation on secret Santa, all participants purchase a gift worth the same amount and then choose in an agreed order who picks a random gift out of the group. When it comes to your turn, you can choose to steal from someone who has already picked their gift or choose something new from the pile.”
- Once you’ve decided how and even if you are going to do presents this year, how do you let your friends and family know your plans without it being awkward?
- Alina suggests: “Having an open and honest conversation with your friends and family as early as possible is the best way to avoid any uncomfortable situations later down the line. Rising costs will be affecting everyone in some way, so it is likely that many people will feel relieved that you’re the first person to broach the topic.
- “Remember there is no obligation to give presents at Christmas. While expectations will vary from person to person, try not to feel bad if you simply cannot afford to give extravagant gifts this year. You are not alone and it can be helpful to remember that almost half of people in the UK are feeling anxious about buying gifts too.*”
- If the cost of living crisis is making you feel worried about Christmas and you’d like to find out where to access support, head to: https://uk.virginmoney.com/brighter-money/cost-of-living-crisis-what-help-is-out-there/