Pay for Christmas with our six seasonal saving tips

It is possible to recoup the full cost of Christmas by kicking off a pre-holiday review of all our other regular expenses. Here's how to do it.

The Christmas shopping season begins in earnest this week with Black Friday then Cyber Monday when bargain-hunters look for big ‘one-day discounts’ in the high street and online.

Research by eBay says we are likely to spend an incredible £748 each on up to 48 different gifts this year – with toys, clothes, gadgets and perfumes the most popular purchases.

The good news is that it is possible to recoup the full cost of Christmas by kicking off a pre-holiday review of all our other regular expenses. You may need to wait until some annual insurance policies and contracts expire to make the biggest savings. But get ready now and experts say most of us can knock at least £1,000 off our bills in 2018.

Britons are likely to spend an incredible £748 each on up to 48 different gifts this year

Britons are likely to spend an incredible £748 each on up to 48 different gifts this year

Here are the six best seasonal savings to consider...

THE MORTGAGE

This is always the big one to save money on. Interest rates have just edged up for the first time in a decade. But most people will still be able to switch on to a lower mortgage rate when their current arrangement ends – especially if their home has gone up in value (and their mortgage has shrunk a bit) in the meantime.

Best-buy charts and fee-free brokers such as London & Country Mortgages in Bath can help find you better rates for free.

CAR INSURANCE

Higher taxes have pushed up motor premiums this year. But intense competition means you can still get a bargain.

New entrants to the motor market, including over-50s specialist Sun Life, will keep initial premiums low as they fight to be noticed.

Meanwhile, comparison website GoCompare says quotes given seven days before renewal dates can be 10 per cent lower than quotes given on the renewal date itself. ‘Leaving it to the last minute hoping to get a bargain does not work in car insurance,’ says the company’s Mark Gutteridge.

HOME COVER

Average premiums for home insurance are lower than five years ago so if you have not shopped around since 2012 do it now. But costs are rising this winter. One reason is increasing affluence – as homes add extra bathrooms and en-suites, the number of water damage claims creeps up.

LIFE PROTECTION

No one likes to think about life insurance – which is why Scottish Widows says almost half of dads do not have any cover. It says parents are more likely to insure their mobile phone than their lives. 

But premiums for basic life cover can be surprisingly affordable and applications are less intrusive than many expect. 

A 30-year-old non-smoker wanting £100,000 of cover for 30 years could pay just £5.50 a month. A 40-year-old wanting similar cover until 60 would pay around £9 a month.

Sarah Pennells, money expert at website SavvyWoman, warns against double insuring. She says: ‘People often pay for travel, car breakdown or legal insurance without realising they get them as free perks on current bank accounts.’

UTILITY BILLS

British Gas came under fire for upping prices in the summer – hopefully encouraging customers to switch provider for a better deal. Internet and phone-based services can help the search for lower costs – and there is also official help at website ofgem.gov.uk.

But while it is possible to save hundreds of pounds a year on utilities the market remains confusing. Experts say 300,000 customers will see their special gas and electricity deals expire this winter and warn them not to drift on to an expensive standard tariff. Use several price comparison websites to find a deal. Then phone your current provider and get it to match other offers.

PHONE AND TV BILLS

Focusing on the monthly cost of TV and phone packages blinds us to the hole they eat in our finances. While £35 a month may seem bearable, it adds up to £420 a year – more than half the amount eBay says we will spend on Christmas gifts. So give up channels you rarely watch and go SIM-only rather than upgrading phones when your contract expires.

How I turned everyday shopping into £2,000 of cashback for trips 

Amy Barnett

Amy Barnett

If the stress of Christmas leaves you in need of a holiday then council support worker Amy Barnett has found an ingenious way to pay for it – by using website TopCashback.

This refunds cash to users when they shop online.

Amy, 24, says: ‘Friends told me about it a few years ago and I was intrigued. I did not think I would get much back at first but I started earning straight away just on ordinary shopping.’

Amy, from Chesterfield in Derbyshire, estimates she has earned almost £2,000 in cashback in three years – and is set to earn more as she gets ready for Christmas.

She adds: ‘So far I have used the money for treats and holidays to Ireland and Iceland.’