It’s the most wonderful time of the year – if you can afford it.
With Christmas fast approaching, people all over Ireland are gearing up for dinners, drinks and family gatherings - but for many, the holidays bring more than just Christmas cheer.
With presents, parties and that all-important turkey to think of, the festive finances can quickly get out of hand.
To help you navigate your seasonal spending, Newstalk Consumer Expert and presenter of The Home Show Sinéad Ryan put together her top ten tips for saving at Christmas.
Save While Shopping
1. Loyalty points
Saving up grocery store loyalty points until Christmas is a great way to get a discount on your final shop - but between now and then, buy two or three non-perishable items on every shop you do to spread out the cost.
This can be crackers, foil, napkins, booze, chocolates, stocking fillers, sweets etc. Put them out of temptation’s way and keep a list on your phone of what you have so you don’t buy twice.
2. Bulk buy
Team up with family members to bulk buy for greater savings.
Although alcohol cannot be sold below cost any more, there are still slabs of beers, cases of wines and other things like multi-packs of sweets, treats and fizzy drinks which cost less when sold in bulk.
Split the cases and costs, and everyone saves.
3. Make a list
Making a list of all the food you will need over the few days of Christmas is really important.
There’s no bigger financial loss than chucking waste in the bin. Once your lists are done - I use sections like meat, veg, fruit, dairy, non-perishables according to the store layout - stick to them rigidly.
Don’t take the kids shopping and bring cash only – and remember, the shops will be open virtually throughout the holidays. Don’t over-buy.
Save while socialising
4. Swap Shop
Nobody wants to cut back on having a good time – but splashing out on an outfit you’ll only wear at Christmas is a waste.
Find a friend who’s the same size and swap special pieces with them, particularly if you’re in different friend/work groups.
If it’s super swanky, hire your dress. Covet.ie, Designerroom.ie in Dublin, Ivory Closet in Limerick and Cari’s Closet in Cork are all great options.
Balenciaga for a Bargain, ladies? You’ll look a million dollars for a fraction of the cost.
5. Early bird
When organising get-togethers over the coming weeks, consider Early Bird dining or long lazy lunches instead of eating in the more expensive evening.
You’ll also find it easier to get a taxi home.
There are still plenty of restaurants which are BYOB and given the mark up on wine, it’s a big saving for sipping – although you may pay a small corkage fee.
6. Oh yes you are!
If you’re bringing the whole family to the panto, it can be very expensive.
Consider some of the excellent amateur productions around the country.
See aims.ie for a list or ask at local theatres and on community notice boards. Bring goodie bags from home filled with treats.
Save on Gifts
7. Kris Krindle
Agree to do kris kindle with every family or friend group you buy for, rather than buying individual gifts.
Rather than splashing out, limit it to a challenge: Buying second-hand books, something for under €10, or a swapped experience - e.g. babysitting for laundry, or three freezer meals for 3 cakes.
You’ll have more fun shopping if you only have to do it once.
Save in the Sales
8. New year, new you
Clear out your wardrobe - I do this between Christmas and New Year - and bag up to sell or donate anything not worn in a year.
Set up an eBay or DoneDeal account or hop onto the many good second-hand sites like Thriftify, DePop or LivingLightlyInIreland to see what you can sell on.
Take great pics and use detailed descriptions.
If your plan is to get rid, then don’t be too precious about price. Once gone, list the gaps in your closet for sale shopping.
Browse now and note the price and location so you’ll know if it’s really a bargain you’ve bagged come St Stephen’s Day.
Bring cash, not cards and stick to your budget.
Save in 2023
9. Tax back
Claim back tax relief on things like medical/dental expenses, Third Level tuition fees and tax credits such as stay-at-home carer and working-from-home utility credit.
Up to €400m will go unclaimed this year and it’s your money. You can backdate claims for up to four years on most items by December 31st.
10. A little goes a long way
Using a leftover gift box, cut a slot in the lid – or use a vault in Revolut. Put in 1c on January 1st and add 1c more every day – 2c on the 2nd, 3c next day, then 4c and so on. By next New Year’s Eve, you’ll have €668.95 saved for a special treat.