Consumer: Start saving now to help pay for Christmas

SEASON'S GREETINGS: There's less than 100 days until Christmas is here.
SEASON'S GREETINGS: There's less than 100 days until Christmas is here.
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With less than 100 days to go until Christmas is upon us, shoppers should start saving now to avoid ending up in debt in the new year.

Those who plan ahead financially will enjoy a smoother run up to the big day - and can start 2016 free from Christmas related money worries.

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Standard Life’s consumer finance expert Julie Hutchison has come up with her top five tips to plan for the festive season:

1. Save £20 a week between now and the end of November. The typical family Christmas costs £650. Saving now will give you an extra £300.

2. Book your travel now if you’re going away or visiting family as booking in advance could save you money.

3. Prepare a gift list. Start asking now what your friends and family would like, then you can keep an eye out for bargains. Think about setting up a secret Santa to cut down on costs and set a maximum price limit for every gift.

4. Don’t be a retail snob. Consider shopping at 
discount retailers and supermarkets, especially when it comes to the big food shop. Ask at your favourite supermarket, or even local butchers, about savings schemes. These can help avoid a big bill and might even offer bonuses if you save a certain amount. When it comes to gifts, young children won’t know the difference between cheaper items and expensive brands.

5. Use social media. Follow big brands and retailers as many will announce deals and offers available through their social channels. Use hashtags such as #deal or #offer as many people will share links to discounts. Look on social media selling sites to pick up second hand bargains as, again, a young child won’t care.

Ms Hutchison said: “Thinking about Christmas sooner rather than later could be the difference between a financially red or black January. Planning now will allow you to maximise your savings as Christmas creeps closer, whilst also reducing the stress and panic of paying for everything in one month.”

Looking out towards Arkengarthdale in the Yorkshire Dales. PIC: Simon Hulme

Fighting for the future of communities in the Yorkshire Dales