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Brits are still paying for Christmas 2015: Tips to avoid festive financial folly

Sometimes, a Christmas hangover can be more than the effect of a few sherries. The financial effects can be felt until at least when the next year's festivities come around.

Paying for bills with a credit cardOur new survey suggests that a quarter of Brits financed Christmas with credit, so given we collectively splurged £40bn on celebrations just finished, that's a real financial headache for many. But we also found that a tenth of households are still paying off debt from Christmas 2015. A dire state of affairs.

Year-round pressure

It's a situation that leaves some households turning off their heating to make ends meet – and even some doing without altogether.

Although this is at the extreme end of things, 31 per cent of those we spoke to said they'd sacrifice entertainment, such as a meal out or a cinema trip throughout the year, to pay for Christmas – losing some of the little bits of joy that make life more colourful and enjoyable.

Get energy smart, and save

We're all about home energy efficiency here at the Energy Saving Trust, and that's something renowned for helping balance household budgets. Therefore, it seemed like a logical step to team up with AshleighMoneySaver.co.uk to offer some timely advice on dealing with Christmas over-indulgence of the monetary kind. 

There are plenty of energy pointers to consider, from how to make your home cheaper to heat and more comfortable: 

  1. Switch energy provider. It takes minutes, but could save you £300 each year – enough to pay for a few presents or even the turkey.
  2. Draught-proof windows and doors – your house will stay warm for longer and pesky draughts won’t creep in. You could save up to £35 every year.
  3. Insulate your loft and walls. Insulating an uninsulated loft could save you up to £140 every year. Depending on how your home’s walls are constructed, you could save £155 to £260 per year by insulating them.
  4. Don’t have a room thermostat or thermostatic radiator valves? Install them and you could save between £75 and £155 every year. Already got them? Turning down your thermostat by just one degree can save between £80 and £85 per year – but your room should be between 18-21 degrees when occupied.

Reign in your spending

But energy is not the sole focus, Ashleigh provides sound advice on savvy ways to save for the festive period over the course of the year, and how to get the best deal in a number of everyday situations:

  1. Shop the sales. It’s never ‘too early’ to start shopping for Christmas. Pick up gift sets that have been heavily reduced, sometimes by 75%, and put them away. They will come in handy for relatives and friends.
  2. When catalogue stores refresh their catalogues, they discontinue many products. These products then go into a huge clearance sale. You can pick up toys, jewellery, electricals and homeware with huge discounts. One of my best buys was a £20.99 board game reduced to £1.99. 
  3. Try and round your grocery shop up to the nearest £10 and put the rest of the balance on a supermarket gift or savings card. This will help you spread the cost of the Christmas grocery shop across the year.
  4. Enter as many competitions as possible. Someone has to win, why shouldn’t it be you? The prize can then be used as a gift at Christmas. 
  5. Haggle. Yes, really! It’s so easy so don’t be put off. Just explain you’re on a budget so is there any way you could get it a little cheaper.

 

It's time to get to grips with matters now, before another late credit card splurge looms large later in the year.

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Do you have any other money saving tips we've missed from these lists? Let us know. Post your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet @EnergySvgTrust.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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