Are you ready for Christmas?

Christmas is less than a month away and many of us will be splurging on Christmas presents and preparing for Christmas get-togethers. It can get quite stressful especially if you are on a budget or working right up to Christmas Eve.

We have put some tips for you on how you can plan ahead to save all the stress that comes with getting ready for Christmas.

1. Get ahead in planning and preparing

To make sure that you don’t overspend at Christmas is to make sure that you plan properly.

Make a budget to work out how much you are willing to spend at Christmas and use lists and planners to keep track of what you are spending on. Your budget should be realistic and keep some money aside in case of emergencies.

Make lists of who you are buying presents for, a food and drinks list and everything that you are planning on doing during the Christmas break.

2. Small cuts, big savings

Once you have your budget and lists, you can shop around for deals so you can start saving.

Also, if you have a shortfall on your budget, see what you can cut out from your regular habits. For example, rather than buying lunch at work, make some at home and take it with you.

3. Save on presents

It can get quite stressful to splash out on presents. Here are some ideas on reducing the cost of Christmas presents:

  • Limit present buying

Apart from buying presents for those closest to you, re-think who you are getting a present for.

If you want to really cut costs on spending, maybe it’s worth having a discussion to put a hold on giving presents. You might be pleasantly surprised to see how many would be willing to let the gift-giving go.

  • Secret Santa with a limit of £5 or £10

If you have a big group of friends or colleagues, Secret Santa is a good way to cut down the Christmas present costs.

All of the names of the people involved are put into a hat, and each person draws out a name. You only buy for the name that you have picked, rather than having to buy for everyone.

Add in a low budget limit, say £5 or £10, and it’s a great way to keep the cost of Christmas down.

You can even use an online Secret Santa generator such as Elfster or Drawnames to make it even easier to set up a Secret Santa.

  • Make your own gifts

You can make some delicious sweet treats such as cookies, jams, curds or muffins.

If you don’t have time to make homemade treats, you can make your own gift vouchers where you can pledge to do something such as make a meal, do their laundry for them, babysit for your friends or mow their lawn.

  • Buy a combined gift

If you are buying a combined gift, you could do a hamper for the family such as a family movie night, basketful of homemade goodies or something useful that they could use as a family.

  • Get Christmas Crafty

Make your own cards and gifts. You can also get the children involved in making these.

4. Get cashback and boost your budget

There are cashback websites such as TopCashBack and Quidco that can help you add extra pounds back to your account (and Christmas budget) when you shop online through their websites.

Remember to always shop around for the best offers and check prices.

5. Save on food

Food does play an important part in any celebration and could be the biggest part of your Christmas budget.

To cut costs on Christmas food:

  • Limit food waste by only buying what you need or thinking of other recipes that you can have for leftovers.
  • Plan the menus for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

By meal planning, you can write out your shopping list and help you with food budgeting. This will also help you keep control of your Christmas spending.

  • Find deals on wine and bubble online

Some supermarkets start their deals in early November so keep your eyes peeled for pre-Christmas deals.

Check out wine sites to make sure that you are getting the best value for money.

  • Buy own-brand products

Quite often than not, the own-brand products are just as good (if not better) than the branded products. Therefore it’s worth trying out the cheaper alternatives and you may be pleasantly surprised.

However some products such as Christmas turkey, it’s worth spending a little extra to make sure that you have a high-quality product.

6. Advance bookings on travel

If you will be visiting your loved ones by train, it’s worth buying train tickets in advance. They are usually available around 12 weeks before the date of travel and the price is usually lowest soon after they are released.

7. Post early for Christmas

Be on the lookout for the last posting dates https://www.royalmail.com/christmas/last-posting-dates on the Royal Mail website.

By posting early, you may be able to use second class post rather than first-class stamps. This way you will be able to take advantage of slower, and cheaper parcel services.

8. Cut delivery costs

Rather than using the Post Office to send your heavy parcels, look for alternatives which may give you a better deal. For example, take a look at Hermes.

9. Prepare for next Christmas

  • Start saving early to spread the cost

You can open a Christmas Savings Account to help you start saving for next Christmas. You can withdraw your savings at the end of November of the next year. To open your Christmas Savings Account, simply email us.

  • Take advantage of end-of-sale bargains

Stock up on decorations, Christmas trees, cards, gifts and wrapping paper in the January sales.

Don’t forget to put them in a ‘Christmas box’ so that you don’t buy more later on.

How to spring clean your finances

Spring is upon us, the weather has improved and lockdown rules have started easing. Many of us take this chance to start spring cleaning. Now is also a good time to tidy up your financial affairs for a better mindset and managing your money.

1. Set your financial goals – and commit to them

After you have outlined your short-term and long-term financial goals, set a limit as to how much money you need to put aside to achieve them. One of the most effective ways is budgeting. By tracking your spending and seeing how much you are saving, you will feel that you’re in better control of your money which will boost your confidence.

2. Review your budget

As mentioned in the previous point, budgeting is an effective way to track your spendings which would eventually help you reach your financial goals.

When doing a spring clean, go back to your budget and see what you are spending on. If there is any unnecessary spending such as subscriptions that you aren’t using or contracts which have ended, you can cancel these or look for better deals.

By budgeting consistently, you will be able to reach your financial goals more easily and reduce any financial stress.

3. Review your credit score

It’s important that you check your credit score on a regular basis. Having simple errors in your record can affect your ability to get a loan in the future.

You would need to check the following details:

  • Address details are up-to-date
  • You are on the electoral roll at your address
  • Your information about any existing accounts is accurate
  • You make payments on time.

There are various ways to check your credit score including Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

You can find out more about credit scores here.

4. Clear any outstanding late payments

As mentioned earlier, late payments can affect your credit score therefore now is the time to catch up and clear any late payments.

Some examples of how you can save up to settle your debts including:

Sell any unwanted items that you have either online or in a car boot sale.
Avoid spending money unnecessarily by avoid impulse buying, for example.
Sign up for our payroll deduction scheme with your employer and start putting your money aside.

You can check our money-saving tips for more ways on how to save.

5. Plan for your financial future

If you enjoy gardening, you may know that you would need to plan and begin to plant your garden for the next year in the spring. Likewise, if you are thinking about buying a car, your first home, Christmas, a special occasion or planning a holiday, you would need to take the time to create a financial plan.

You can do so by taking the advantage of one of our savings accounts to suit your needs such as the Christmas Savings Account. Also, a quick win for saving is setting some money from your salary each month through our payroll deduction scheme.

 

A checklist on how to save money on your energy bills

A checklist on how to save money on your energy bills

With the recent announcement of the energy prices rising by up to £96, here is a checklist of what you can do to use energy efficiently. This will save you some money and help the environment at the same time.

1. Turn off the lights

If you are about to leave a room and there is nobody else there, turn off the lights.

2. Use energy-saving light bulbs

You can easily cut energy bills by replacing traditional light bulbs with energy-saving ones. Over it’s lifetime, you could easily cut £180 from your energy bills (which.co.uk).

3. Shut off computers and entertainment devices when not in use.

According to Energy Saving Trust, you can save up to £35 a year if you switch off your devices rather than leaving them on standby.

4. Go natural

Where possible, use natural light, heat and cooling. For example, instead of using a tumble dryer, dry your laundry outside on a hot summer’s day or on a clothes rack on a cold winter’s day.

5. Make home improvements

This can be through:
Home insulation (save up to £315)
Installing a new boiler (save around £205 a year)
Cutting draughts (save approx. £20)
Install and use heating controls (save £75)

Estimated costs from which.co.uk

6. Replacing an appliance? Choose energy-efficient appliances (save £213)

Look at energy-efficient ratings to show how efficient a product is. Lab tests done by Which? show that you could save £48 on a washing machine and £69 on a fridge-freezer.

7. Make switches:

We don’t mean light switches here. We mean:

a) Switch suppliers if you haven’t done so in a while. You should always look around for better deals. You could save up to £350. (moneyexpert.com)

b) Switch to Direct Debit

By paying your energy bills through direct debit, you spread the energy costs over the year. This way you will avoid the shock of a winter bill and you could save up to £100 a year as it reduces admin costs. (moneyexpert.com)

You can get detailed information on the above tips on the following websites:

Moneyexpert.com 

Which?

 

 

Five ways to get into the habit of saving money

Some habits are easy to form and can occur automatically without you thinking about them. Some of these are nail-biting; binge-watching TV; or unhealthy eating. Unfortunately, saving money is not a natural habit. Saving money is one of those things that is “easier said than done.” However, we have a few ideas to help you get into the habit of saving money.

1. Set a goal of how much you would like to save by the end of the year. You can use SMART to make your goal.

Specific: Determine how much you would like to save by the end of the year. If you haven’t saved before, start with a small amount.

Measurable: Think about how much you need to save each month to reach your target amount.

Actions: How will you save money each month? Visit our News section to get some hints and tips on saving money, or maybe you can join the Payroll Deduction Scheme (more on this in idea 3).

Realistic: Set a target amount that you can achieve. You can’t say that you will save a million pounds if you have never saved before. If you start by saving as little as £1,200 a year, that’s more realistic. Create milestones and give yourself a little reward for reaching them. This will motivate you to continue saving.

Timely: Think about when you want to achieve your target amount – is it by the end of the year or Christmas?

2. Open a savings account
At Hertsavers, we have a wide range of savings accounts that you can open, whatever the occasion. You can find out more here.

3. Pay yourself first

Did you know that one of the most effective ways to start saving money is “paying yourself first”? You can do this by paying yourself each month through a Payroll Deduction Scheme.

This way you are automatically saving money even without thinking about it.

Find out more about our Payroll Deduction Scheme here.

4. Create a budget for how you will save money rather than spending money. This way, you will know how you would need to put aside to start saving. The Money Skills App has a good tool to help you. Learn more.

5. Are you about to buy something?

Especially if it’s an impulse purchase, simply think of it the following questions:

  • “Do I need, do I REALLY need it?”
  • “How many hours would I need to work to afford this purchase?”

Remember: Be a mindful consumer rather than a mindless one. By thinking about what you are about to spend (and if it’s worth it) is more step towards your habit of saving.

We wish you all the best with your habit of saving. Remember, you can always get in touch with us if you need help with saving your money.