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Make your money go further this Christmas

With just weeks to go before Christmas there’s still time to enjoy the festive fun without suffering a financial hangover, Ann Francis explains how.

The average British family spends more than £800 on food, drink, cards and decorations at Christmas, and the Money Advice Trust suggests that one in four of us spends more than we can really afford.

As much fun as loosening the purse strings can be, Christmas isn’t supposed to be a retail festival, so to save money, why not agree with certain friends that you won’t exchange this year, or set a price limit on family gifts, particularly for adult relatives?

You could introduce a ‘children only’ rule for family presents, or follow the workplace trend and set up a Secret Santa with your relatives with a limit on how much can be spent.

To boost your Christmas kitty, there’s still a little time before the big day to scour the garage or loft for those barely-used gadgets or children’s toys that could be sold on (and free up some space!)

For those who prefer to do their shopping at home, there are ways to earn cashback from online purchases on websites such as Quidco.com or Topcashback.co.uk. And don’t forget that the Cambrian Engage card offers cashback on a number of High Street purchases, including your supermarket shop.

According to Guardian Money, the cost of Christmas dinner is up by 5 percent this year. There’s no doubt that food can be expensive at yuletide and that’s not helped by the fact that supermarkets have temptation lurking in every aisle! The best advice is to make a list, stick to it and avoid waste.

We all overestimate the amount that people will tuck away. If you don’t want to waste food – or the money you’ve spent buying it – look at lovefoodhatewaste.com, which has a handy portion calculator.

Exchanging Christmas cards can be expensive. If you are sending cards by post, first class stamps cost 60p, while second class stamps cost 50p, so if you plan to send 30 cards by email this year, you could save enough to buy some mince pies by simply opting for a cheaper stamp.

There are lots of free websites that let you create your own cards, with family photos and videos and opting for online cards could save you £15-£18, enough for the Christmas pudding and some crackers!

The best advice of all? Prepare for Christmas in January. Buy those decorations and cards on sale in the New Year and plan ahead by saving a little bit each month.

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