British entrepreneur, investor and consumer champion Sarah Willingham shares her tips for those looking to have a very merry Christmas - without overspending.
With the Christmas period in full swing, people up and down the country are getting into the festive spirit. But with calendars full of gatherings with friends and family, and a never-ending list of presents which need to be purchased, wrapped and sitting under the tree come 25 December, Christmas can be a time of added monetary concern for many of us.
As a mum of four, I know how difficult it can be to make sure everyone has a great Christmas, but you need to make sure you’re not doing yourself a financial disservice as a result. That’s why I want to share my top tips on how you can be a bit savvier this December.
1. Check your coupons and offers
Take heed from the 25% of shoppers in the UK who make the most of their earned points and cash them in at Christmas. Before heading to the shops go through the rewards and offers available to you on your credit, charge or store cards and organise your shopping trip accordingly. If you’re an Amex Cardmember then make sure to check your offers on the Amex app, you can then save the ones you think you will use to your Card.
2. Shop local
You can support your local businesses while earning something back for yourself. I love all small businesses in the UK, in particular the independent tea and coffee merchants. They always smell divine and have the most amazing and unusual stock. Even better is that I know that when I support participating Shop Small merchants during this time of year, I get a £5 statement credit every time I spend £10 or more.*
3. Secret Santa
If you have lots of different groups to buy presents for – work colleagues, school friends, aunts and uncles – it is worth suggesting Secret Santa. Set a budget, pull names out of a hat, and encourage people to get creative. Not only will you probably end up with more interesting gifts, but you won’t find yourself dealing with the stress of finding the ‘perfect gift’.
4. Don’t give in to pressure
Kids always want what their friends have but try not to give in to pressure from them. Set a budget, discuss it with them and make sure you stick to it. You will also be teaching them some useful tips around money management. Other parents in their class at school will be doing the exact same thing so don’t think you have to keep up with the Jones’ either.
5. Make your presents matter
There’s a great saying about shopping for presents for your children, buy them “something they want, something they need, something they wear and something they read.” Choose presents such as sports equipment or stationery which will be useful for the new school term, resulting in savings when January comes around.
6. Think about last year
Cast your mind back to last year and remember where you got your best bargains. Check what retailers are offering this year and make sure you sign up to newsletters to make the most of introductory offers and receive early sales alerts.
Sarah Willingham is an ambassador for American Express Shop Small, an initiative which looks to celebrate the small businesses who do big things for their communities every day. Now in its sixth year, the Shop Small campaign from American Express, is just one of the ways in which American Express provides powerful backing to small businesses up and down the country. Visit amexshopsmall.co.uk
*Offer only available to UK issued American Express Cards with the exclusion of Lloyds Bank, Corporate and Pre-Paid Cards. Enrolment required, available in-store, participating merchants only, once per location. For a list of participating merchants and full Offer Terms and more details about statement credits visit amexshopsmall.co.uk
Promotor: American Express Services Europe Limited has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.