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Don’t Let your Finances Suffer this Christmas

By | General, Personal Finance | No Comments

It’s nearly Christmas! Everyone’s getting ready to snuggle up around the fire, drink hot chocolate and watch Christmas classics on the telly! When all the festivities commence, the last thing you want to be doing is worrying about money. There are many ways you can save money this season, whilst keeping the Christmas spirit alive! Here are some easy tips to help you have a cost-effective Christmas.

Travel

Planning a holiday this Christmas? Perhaps a trip to see the grandparents, or trying to escape the weather by fleeing to the southern hemisphere? Buying train or plane tickets can get really expensive, especially at this time of year. So it’s a good idea to buy them as far in advance as possible, this can save you big time. The Trainline has a free Price Prediction tool, this can show you how much the ticket price is likely to rise, and by which date, helping you get the best deal. As for plane tickets, using comparison sites such as Kayak or Skyscanner will help you find the cheapest tickets, filtering through loads of airlines so you don’t have to! If you’re heading to a popular resort, booking a package holiday could be cheaper than booking everything separately.

Shopping

Shopping for many of us takes a huge chunk out of our budgets. However, there are some ways that you can cut the costs at the checkout. Making a list is very important when you go shopping, as this will help you to work out exactly what you need and how much it will cost. This will also stop you from impulse-buying, something many of us are guilty of, especially when Christmas shopping!

Money saving deals and vouchers can be helpful but be wary, as they are made to make us want to spend more money. Don’t buy three of something that you only need one of just because there’s a 3 for 2 deal! When buying gifts, another good idea is to shop around, compare the price of the item in different stores to try and get the best deal! If you’re not sure about something, check the reviews of the product before buying to make sure it’s worth it.

Second-Hand Marketplaces

Buying gifts for the whole family can get really expensive. So using second-hand sites such as eBay and Gumtree can help you find great items for an even better price! You can find unwanted Christmas trees, toys that are in great condition, or even gift sets and people’s unwanted gifts from last Christmas! This is a great way to find unique gifts without having to break the bank. Second-hand decorations are also a good idea, and even better, homemade! Get your kids crafting paper snowflakes and have your home feeling utterly festive in no time!

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

Next year’s Christmas might seem a long time away, but preparing early can really help make the difference. Putting a bit of money aside each month specifically for next Christmas will help you build a nice sum to work with, and you’ll be thanking your past self! Set a goal amount of money that you would like to have for next year, and work out much you have to save per month to reach it. This will save you the last minute panic, and will make sure you and your family have a great Christmas every year!

Free Things to do with the Kids this Christmas

By | General | No Comments

Christmas is the most magical time of year for children, what’s better than no school, Santa Claus, and lots and lots of chocolate after all? Making their Christmas special on a tight budget may seem tricky, but there are actually many activities you can do with your kids that won’t cost anything at all!

Writing a letter to Santa Claus

A great, free activity to do with your kids is helping them write letters to Santa! All you need is some A4 paper and a pen, and you’re away! They can write their Christmas list down (helpful info so you know what to buy! Hopefully they’re not too crazy…), and they could also tell Santa how good they’ve been this year! They can draw pictures and decorate them, and then you can leave them out for Santa on Christmas Eve! Just grab an envelope and write Mr. Claus’ address (Lapland, obviously). This is a great way to get your kids excited for Christmas, and it’s fun without having to tear into your budget.

Festive Films

Why not cuddle up around on the sofa and slap on a Christmas classic! In the run up to Christmas, many TV channels will be showing festive movies around the clock. Make some time with your family to chill out and watch a film, to really get you into the spirit of things. Put on your kids’ favourite, or even show them your favourite Christmas film from when you were young, let the nostalgia ensue! Running out of ideas? There are loads and loads of articles online which rank the best Christmas films of all time. Another fun idea is to have a Christmas sing-a-long, the radio will be jam packed full of classics this festive season, or there are many playlists online to be found. Chilling out with the kids with some festivities like these is a fun free way to conjure lots of Christmas spirit!

Family Fun

Gather the family together to play some Christmas games, such as festive charades! Playing board games is also a great idea around this time of year, and if you bought some for your kids of Christmas, you can play them on Christmas day! This is a lovely way to make the whole family come together and get involved, you could even give a prize to whoever wins (a Santa-shaped chocolate maybe?).

Christmas Bakes

Everyone loves sweet treats, especially the little ones. So why not let them help you make some for the family, or for them to give to their friends when they come over for a playdate! If you’re not the greatest baker yourself, there are many festive food recipes online that will help you get started. Things like mince pies, jam tarts, christmas pudding and yule logs are all great examples! Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you could try crafting a gingerbread house together. This can be tricky, but incredibly fun (and even if it collapses, at least you have some tasty gingerbread for you and the kids to munch on). You can use icing, and sweets to decorate the outside and turn it into Santa’s grotto! Ho-ho-how festive!

Making Decorations

You don’t have to buy expensive decorations to make your home feel festive! You can make some with your kids as a fun afternoon activity! Just gather some craft supplies that you have laying around, you can go as elaborate as you like, but you only really need paper, scissors and glue to make most simple crafts. For example, making paper snow angels, paper chains, and snowflakes! There are many guides on how to make these online which can help! Let your kids go decorating crazy with colours, patterns or glitter! This makes a cheap alternative to the shop bought decorations, bringing a homemade touch and great memories for you and the children.

Are household bills still increasing? How do you manage this?

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Households have been hit hard as the cost of bills and other goods continue to rise. The cost of household bills have risen twice as fast as salaries over the last decade, according to a study. So what are the main culprits?

Gas and electricity are the biggest drivers of the increase – rising 73% and 72% respectively over the past 10 years, while water bills have increased by 41% – all significantly higher than inflation at 32%. Basic household bills have increased by an average of 43% overall, more than double the rate of wage growth, the figures suggest.

Council tax has risen by 27%, and TV, phone and broadband prices have all gone up by 24%, albeit slower than inflation but still faster than wage growth of 19%.

Some 13% of the average UK adult’s salary is spent paying basic domestic bills, so what can we do about it? Here are some useful tips.

  • You could reduce the amount you pay by switching gas / electricity supplier, changing to pay by monthly direct debit or looking at the different tariffs your current supplier offers.
  • Installing a smart meter can help you to see the energy that you are using and help you to cut down.
  • Switching to a water meter can help save money if you are in a household that doesn’t use much water as you only pay for what you use.
  • Shop around for your mobile phone tariff and make sure you are only getting what you need.

There are some bills that you can’t find better deals for such as your tv licence and council tax. Unfortunately the only way to pay less council tax is by moving to a property in a lower council tax band, but that might be a bit drastic! You can, however, pay for these in monthly instalments to make these bills more manageable.

Make sure you shop around for things like home insurance, tv, broadband and telephone. Using a comparison website to search for these and your other household bills can give you the  better deals, meaning you could save a small fortune.

Depending on your age and/or circumstances it could mean you are entitled to a reduction or help with certain household bills, so it is worth checking if you are entitled to anything. The best place to start is //www.gov.uk/

 

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