Chanucah is on 8 December this year. Unlike those celebrating Christmas, we at least have the excuse that Chanucah moves dates for our bad budgeting and January skintness, but we still need to prepare well in advance. And let’s be honest, some of us have Christmas obligations too, to friends or works colleagues that are celebrating. Here are my top tips:
Small spending sacrifices can make a big difference. There are three magic numbers: 57, 40, and 8. The first is the appoximate number of days until Chanucah, the last the number of weeks, and the middle one, well let me show you: if you buy a can of Coke and a pack of crisps costing £2.50 every working-day, and you stopped now and saved the cash, you would have £100 (£2.50 x 40) by Chanucah.
I am not saying you should give it up, but that you can make an active choice. See www.demohohotivator.com.
Five per cent of your shopping
Capital One’s Aspire World credit card pays a big five per cent cashback (up to a maximum of £100) on all spending in the first 99 days (up to 1.25 per cent after). Therefore apply now to use it for all your normal spending and Chanucah/festive shopping to get serious cashback on your spend — though that is not paid until January.
Remember to set up a monthly direct debit to fully repay the balance to avoid the 19.9 per cent APR.
If you have a poor credit score, you can still get three per cent cashback with the Aqua Reward card, up to a maximum of £100 a year. It is designed as a credit rebuild card where you use it each month to boost your credit score — and it even accepts some with older CCJs or defaults. Always fully repay or it is a huge 34.9 per cent representative APR.
Put money aside each month from now
A typical family’s Christmas spending is £600. I would suspect Chanucah is similar, which is often too much for December’s income alone. Work out your likely spend and put a quarter aside in September, October and November to spread the cost. If that is too much, cut your cloth accordingly.
Don’t use Tesco vouchers for festive food
A £10 voucher is worth just £10 in-store, yet you can triple its value on gift items such as jewellery or breakdown cover. Plus, I suspect that in November it will relaunch its in-store “double-up” scheme, letting you get 2x value on selected items, possibly including frozen food. And you can boost this by reclaiming lost old points. See www.moneysavingexpert.com/tescoreclaim.
Got it and don’t need it?
Many old items can be worth serious cash. As a simple rule, if you haven’t used it since last Chanucah, consider flogging it. With old mobiles, don’t just send them to the first company you see advertised on the TV. There can be price differences depending on the handset, so compare, or use www.mobilevaluer.com tool to do it for you.
"Comp” for presents
If you dont have anything to sell try “comping” for a bit of fun — sourcing and entering 100s of the right competitions using web gadgets. From cars to 5-star USA holidays, MoneySavers have won it all. There are no guarantees, but why not try it? A number of websites are dedicated to showing you how.
It’s about systematically entering hundreds of competitions, rather than doing the odd contest. This way, you are statistically more likely to win big.
Ban festive presents
Chanucah nor Christmas are retail festivals. Yet gift inflation sees people give to an ever-widening range of extended family and colleagues. The joy of giving can be selfish if it obliges someone to unaffordably buy you back. So maybe its time to ban gift-giving. See www.moneysavingexpert.com/banchristmas.
Buying for a friend?
If you are buying a present, remember only the person who bought goods has statutory rights to take it back and get a refund if it is faulty. So if you give a gift, technically the recipient can’t return it. So use a gift receipt, or if it is not available, note down that it is a gift (preferably on the slip the retailer keeps) to transfer the rights.
A Chanucah cupboard
If you are buying gifts, put a “Chanucah cupboard” aside. Then when discount bargains or vouchers appear, or shops do their one-off sales — as Debenhams, John Lewis and Next have just done — you can pounce and pop it away.
Do not borrow
Borrowing for Chanucah is a bad idea but if you have to, the longest 0 per cent spending credit card for new cardholders is Tesco’s 16 month 0 per cent. Yet you need to plan the repayments. Ideally, you should plan to clear it before next year — definitely before the 0 per cent ends, as it jumps to 16.9 per cent representative APR. See www.moneysavingexpert.com/0%cards.