Finance expert shares how to enjoy Christmas for less this year

One of the UK’s leading money-saving experts has revealed her top tips for slashing the cost of Christmas – ditch the turkey, make your own gifts and use loyalty points when shopping.

Other top hacks from Makala Green include looking in charity shops for hidden gems, checking cupboards for existing stock, and sticking to budgets and shopping lists.

While the award-winning chartered financial expert, who has appeared on This Morning, said it’s perfectly fine to prioritise who you want to buy gifts for.

Influencer Makala teamed up with rewards club Virgin Red, which gives its members points to put towards gifts, gigs, flights, fashion and more, to share her wisdom with 100 days to go until Christmas.

Makala, who has more than 20,000 followers on Instagram, said: “Forewarned is forearmed, so this year I am making it my mission to help families be better informed on how to save at Christmas.

“Whether that’s getting the kids involved in making their own decorations or spending all the loyalty points you can earn within the next 100 days on Christmas gifts and festive travel, there’s so many ways to make your money work harder in the run up to Christmas.

“It’s been a year with lots of price hikes from energy to food and fuel, which has squeezed many household budgets and savings, meaning there will be more cash-strapped people this Christmas due to the cost-of-living crisis.”

It comes as a poll of 2,000 adults who celebrate Yuletide, commissioned by Virgin Red, found the average amount they spend on gifts and celebrations over Christmas adds up to £453.53.

However, amid the cost-of-living crisis, adults were looking to reduce their budget by an average of 24 percent this year.

A whopping 79 percent of people were using loyalty programme points to reduce their outgoings when it comes to their daily shop, earning points on their spending.

Almost half (44 percent) were planning to use loyalty points to buy gifts this festive period, while 36 percent were looking to use loyalty point to get gifts at a cheaper price.

However, 38 percent said they were saving up their points to put towards their Christmas shop, with 21 percent revealing by using a loyalty scheme they had saved up to £100.

Food and drink for Christmas meals (67 percent), gifts (54 percent) and decorations (17 percent) were other areas people planned to use their points.

While 54 percent of those polled by Virgin Red typically planned for Christmas a month or two before the big day, 16 percent of savvy savers get cracking in September.

Among the main benefits of planning early is it gives you more time to find a bargain (44 percent), can budget better (44 percent) and it avoids a last-minute rush (40 percent).

Andrea Burchett, of Virgin Red, which is offering members 10 times the usual number of points when shopping with Marks & Spencer until 21 September and has a flash sale on buying points until 18 September, said: “The excitement of bagging a bargain is heightened at Christmas.

“With these top tips and utilising lesser-known hacks like saving on travel and experiences, families can make the most of every pound spent with Virgin Red.”

Makala Green added: “Christmas comes around the same day each year but can still bend your budget if you haven’t prepared.

“Give yourself plenty of time by shopping early to escape the last-minute rush and impulse purchases.

“I’m here to share money-saving tips on savvy spending and cutting costs this Christmas without sacrificing your festive cheer.”

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